In today’s economic climate, it might seem impossible to close a $510 million budget deficit while protecting current aviation funding and providing additional support for public-use general aviation airports in the near future. But that’s just what Kansas lawmakers did May 11.
Just a few months ago, Kansas officials were eying cuts to the state’s airport improvement fund and considering elimination of the sales tax exemption on aircraft sales, as well as a host of other revenue measures. Instead, the governor and legislature chose to enact a temporary increase in the state’s sales tax. Under the new tax bill, the state’s sales tax will go from 5.3 cents per dollar to 6.3 cents per dollar temporarily starting July 1. The tax will gradually decrease, reaching 5.7 on July 1, 2013. At that point, revenue from four-tenths of a cent will go toward transportation funding, including additional money for the airport improvement fund.
“During a difficult financial time in Kansas, state policymakers made tough decisions to protect general aviation and avoid two very detrimental proposals,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “We appreciate their consideration of the aviation community’s concerns. They have demonstrated that they understand the importance of GA and the detrimental effects of decreasing aviation funding and removing aircraft sales tax exemptions.”
Such moves would have hurt the upkeep of GA airports and driven future aircraft sales—and resulting economic benefit—out of the state, according to Pecoraro. And in Kansas, this means a lot of jobs. The economic impact of aviation in the state is $10.8 billion in on-airport and $9.2 billion in off-airport aerospace manufacturing impact.
The final budget keeps the sales tax exemption and increases appropriations to the Kansas Public-Use General Aviation Airport Development Fund from $3 million to $5 million per year starting in 2013. The fund is key to financing upgrades and maintenance at the state’s GA airports.