State budget battles are becoming big problems for aviation. As states enter into their 2003 legislative sessions, the first item of business for many states will be resolving ominous budget deficits. AOPA's Government and Technical Affairs Division and regional representatives are rising to the challenge to ensure essential state aviation programs are funded.
In Minnesota, legislators are proposing to move $15 million from the state's airports fund to the general fund. In a letter to Minnesota House of Representatives Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Dist. 28B), AOPA's Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula explained "money paid into this fund by aircraft owners and operators was anticipated to be used for aviation development; any transfer of money from this fund now or in the future could jeopardize important state programs." AOPA members in Minnesota can help out by contacting their state legislator to oppose this proposal. Minnesota members, see AOPA's Pilot Alert to learn more.
AOPA is keeping a close eye on states such as Arizona, Virginia, California, and Florida, just to name a few, because they are involved in heated budget battles where significant cuts in aviation funding are possible.
State aviation funding is a major source of money for airport repair and maintenance. In Colorado, for example, state funding has helped develop more AWOS weather reporting stations throughout the mountainous regions of the state where precise weather information is critical. Without state funding, local communities nationwide may have to come up with more money on their own just to take advantage of federal grants for airport improvements. The federal government generally covers 90 percent of eligible project costs.
While aviation is obviously competing with other state interests for funding, AOPA is actively educating state legislators on the benefits of aviation by directing them to the AOPA-developed GA Serving America Web site. The message is simple. Nationwide, general aviation supports more than 1.3 million jobs and generates $102.1 billion in economic activity for the U.S. economy. Aviation is worth investing in because it generates jobs, supports local industry, and moves medical patients and supplies. Investing in aviation will not only ensure the safety of pilots by providing well-maintained airports, but it will also fuel your state's economy.
If your state legislators don't already know the benefits of aviation, encourage them to learn more at www.GAServingAmerica.org.