General aviation is vital to New Jersey’s prosperity, and lawmakers should do all they can to keep fuel prices affordable, protect GA airports from encroachment, and take advantage of existing laws designed to protect privately owned fields. That was the message AOPA delivered to the New Jersey Assembly’s Committee on Transportation during a Sept. 24 hearing about GA in the state.
AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Greg Pecoraro was joined by AOPA Eastern Regional Representative Greg Winton and several leaders of the New Jersey aviation community as he testified before the committee.
In his testimony, Pecoraro urged lawmakers not to raise aviation fuel taxes, to prevent incompatible development around airports, and to fully utilize existing airport rights development legislation that allows the Commissioner of Transportation to purchase the development rights at GA airports. That law was put in place to protect privately owned fields that aren’t subject to federal grant assurances.
Noting that New Jersey has an unusually high percent of privately owned airports, Pecoraro also emphasized the importance of preventing local communities from using eminent domain proceedings to seize airport property and ultimately close the airport.
Lawmakers also posed questions, asking about AOPA’s Airport Watch program and the role of GA in public safety and emergency management.
“There are some 2.5 million GA operations in New Jersey each year, bringing tremendous value to the state’s economy,” Pecoraro said. “We want to work in partnership with lawmakers to help GA thrive despite the pressures faced by airports and operators.”