A bill under consideration for a second time in Washington state would allocate 100 percent of the state’s existing aircraft excise tax revenues to the state Department of Transportation's aviation division to help fund Washington’s airport aid grant program. Senate Bill 5430 has been reintroduced in the state’s abbreviated 2014 legislative session. The measure was discussed during a public hearing on Feb. 4.
In Washington state, aircraft owners pay an annual aircraft excise tax, which ranges from $25 to $125, depending on the type of aircraft. “At present, 90 percent of this revenue is allocated to state’s general fund, while just 10 percent is allocated to the state’s aviation division for use in the airport aid grant program,” said AOPA Northwest Mountain Regional Manager David Ulane. “The airport aid grant program helps funds critical airport maintenance, capacity, and safety projects at the state's 134 public use airports, also allowing airports to leverage federal airport improvement funds.”
The bill does not increase aviation taxes in Washington state—it simply reallocates the existing tax revenues to aviation purposes, where AOPA and others have consistently advocated they belong, said Ulane. “If SB 5430 were passed, WSDOT’s aviation division would receive an additional $550,000 per budget biennium, which could be used to leverage $6.5 million in additional FAA Airport Improvement Program funds.”
AOPA members in Washington state are encouraged to contact lawmakers on the state Senate’s Ways and Means Committee and encourage them to support SB 5430 and pass this important bill for a second time to the full Senate for further consideration during the abbreviated legislative session.
On Jan. 28, Ulane participated in an “Airport Funding Day at the Legislature” function at the state capitol in Olympia, where airports, pilots and aviation advocates met during the day with state legislators and staffers to explain the need for additional airport funding and encourage passage of SB 5430. He returned to Olympia to testify personally in support of the bill at the Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting Feb. 4.
When the bill was introduced in 2013, AOPA worked diligently with organizations including the Washington Pilots Association, the Washington Airport Management Association, Washington State Community Airports Association, the National Business Aviation Association, the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association, the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association, and the Washington Aviation Association to pass the bill and will work with them again to get it passed.