Feb. 18, 2004 - AOPA is calling on the Transportation Committee in the South Carolina state senate to pass a bill that would greatly increase airport and aviation funding. House Bill 4537 would transfer the state's Division of Aeronautics from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Transportation and would put taxes from the sale of aviation turbine fuel into the state aviation fund, instead of the general fund, where they go now. The bill has already passed the House. South Carolina is one of only a handful of states in which Aeronautics is not part of the state Department of Transportation.
In a letter to the chairman of the state senate Transportation Committee, AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula said, "AOPA applauds this common-sense initiative embodied in HB 4537."
Cebula pointed out that taxes from the sales of avgas for piston-powered aircraft already go into the aviation fund, so it only makes sense that aviation turbine fuel taxes go into the same fund, since both piston- and turbine-powered aircraft use the same airports.
"All tax revenues generated from the taxes on aviation services should be used for the enhancement and preservation of the aviation system," he wrote.
Cebula noted aviation's economic impact in South Carolina, saying that general aviation alone accounts for $340 million in economic activity annually and supports thousands of jobs in a variety of industries. But, he said, the importance of aviation reaches much farther than just filling the state coffers.
"Aviation is a supporter of industry, technology, communities, agriculture, medical transportation, banking, personal travel, and of course is used for pleasure flying," he wrote, concluding, "Like a system of highways, the state's system of airports require pavement maintenance, enhancements, and engineering studies to ensure the ultimate safety of those aircraft operators and to preserve that airport as a valuable transportation asset for a community."