AOPA California Regional Representative John Pfeifer supplied each Senate Transportation Committee member with a map of the airports in his or her district that would receive funding for improvement projects.
AOPA California Regional Representative John Pfeifer testified Tuesday before the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee in support of a California bill that would dedicate $15 million annually through 2009 for safety, capacity, and security improvements at publicly owned general aviation airports. The committee approved the bill but, not unexpectedly, removed the funding.
While the committee supported the idea of funding improvements for general aviation airports, legislators said that the issue should be addressed in the state's budget deliberations.
"Despite the money being removed from the legislation, we're encouraged by the fact that the legislature recognized the needs of general aviation," said Roger Cohen, AOPA vice president of regional affairs. "AOPA succeeded in raising the visibility of the need for improvements at general aviation airports, but we have our work cut out to get real money for airports."
Pfeifer supplied each of the members of the Senate Transportation Committee with a map of the airports in his or her district that would receive funding for improvement projects. The maps graphically represented $120 million in specific projects for airport improvements from the California Aviation System Plan.
The committee said that aviation funding should increase and that general aviation should have some of the taxes pilots pay into the fund returned. General aviation pays some $7 million into the general fund through an 18-cent fuel excise tax on avgas and a 2-cent excise tax on jet fuel that is dedicated to the Division of Aeronautics.
The committee expressed concerns about the vague language in the bill that did not specify how the money would be spent. The committee also questioned the feasibility of allocating that amount of general fund money to aviation when it was needed for other social services, and whether airport funding should come from the federal government or the local airport sponsor.
"AOPA had the opportunity to represent its 50,000 California members in the capital of the nation's most populous state and reinforce the association's influence on major issues," Cohen said. "The association will continue to make sure the legislature is aware of our members' needs."
April 6, 2005