May 27, 2004 - In a textbook example of unified general aviation interests, airports, pilots, and aviation advocates have put two measures on the desk of Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-Ariz.) that should significantly increase state funding for airport safety and capacity improvements and reduce aviation taxes.
AOPA Western Regional Representative Stacy Howard and Michael Racy, the Airport Support Network volunteer for Marana Regional Airport and a registered lobbyist who represents the Tucson Airport Authority and Pima County, helped convince lawmakers to use 100% of the state's aviation-related tax and fee revenues to help fix general aviation airports. The two also helped win approval for SB1020, a bill to reduce the state's tax on antique aircraft.
During the budget crunch of the past several fiscal years, Arizona had diverted approximately half ($7 million to $8 million annually) of the aviation fuel taxes, aircraft registration fees, and aircraft property taxes the state collects to the general fund. Governor Napolitano this year proposed rededicating all those aviation taxes to help maintain airports - a move strongly supported by AOPA and this week approved by state lawmakers.
Howard testified before both legislative chambers supporting SB1020. The measure cuts the tax on an estimated 700 "antique" aircraft from 0.5% of value to a flat $20 annual fee. AOPA members in Arizona played a big role, contacting legislators and convincing them to remove procedural hurdles to the bill's passage.