New Mexico will not increase taxes on aviation fuels and divert the fresh funds to other parts of the state budget, thanks in part to AOPA’s protests of proposed legislation.
The state legislature adjourned March 21 without acting on various bills that would have raised the cost of flying in New Mexico. AOPA Central Southwest Regional Manager Yasmina Platt told lawmakers that the proposed changes would jeopardize FAA funding, which is predicated in part on the state’s assurances that monies raised from taxes on aviation fuel will be spent on aviation infrastructure. Platt noted that forgoing those FAA funds would in turn jeopardize jobs and limit the state’s ability to pay for upkeep and improvements to the state’s airports.
Another bill that would have taken 20 percent of the unspent money from the state aviation fund at the end of each fiscal year and transferred it to the state general fund would likewise have jeopardized FAA funding, Platt noted. That bill also was left on the table as the session ended, effectively defeating it. Platt said she will keep a close eye on a possible special session that may be called later, though inclusion of these bills in such a session would be unlikely.
Platt and other aviation advocates will continue to work with lawmakers to make sure the implications of such bills are well understood, along with the importance of maintaining a favorable tax environment for state aviation businesses. General aviation in New Mexico accounts for $3.1 billion in economic activity and supports 48,000 jobs, according to a 2009 study. Platt joined fellow advocates and lawmakers celebrating those benefits during the recent Aviation Day at the state Capitol.