Florida has one of the most supportive airport funding programs in the United States - Florida Governor Jeb Bush has requested more than $143 million for the state's aviation grant program.
But the program has been working so well that airports have actually been declining federal funding. Now the state is seeking to change its laws so that general aviation airports can receive federal and substantial state funding for the same project without having to dig deep into their own pockets.
"Florida has set an excellent example of how states can provide financial support for aviation programs," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "Other states should follow Florida's lead and help keep our nation's GA airports - the on-ramps to our National Airspace System - in good working condition."
Currently, the state will fund 80 percent of an airport project as long as the airport does not receive federal funding. If the airport does receive federal funds, the state will pay only 50 percent, so airports have been declining federal funding.
"It makes sense, just look at the math," said AOPA Florida Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes. "If an airport has a $1 million project and receives $300,000 in federal funding, the state would pay only $350,000 (50 percent of the remaining $700,000). That would leave the airport with a $350,000 bill.
"Now, if the airport declined the federal funding, the state would pay $800,000, leaving the airport with only $200,000."
But now, a provision of a larger transportation bill in the legislature would allow the state to fund 80 percent of a GA airport's project that receives federal funding.
"This would ultimately save the state and airports money," Rhodes said. "And it would maximize the use of federal funds."
Using the same example, if a GA airport received $300,000 in federal funds for a $1 million project, the state would pay $560,000, and the GA airport would pay $140,000.
March 16, 2006