Aircraft excise taxes collected by the state of Washington will exclusively fund airport improvement projects under a transportation appropriations bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
The new policy amounts to a major reallocation of aircraft excise-tax revenue by directing 100 percent of the excise tax proceeds to support aviation infrastructure, up from only 10 percent before the reallocation, when 90 percent of the tax revenue went to the state’s general fund.
AOPA and other aviation organizations have long urged that aviation taxes be reinvested in state aviation systems and not be diverted to other uses. The provision will have the added benefit of strengthening the state’s airport aid grant program without increasing taxes, said Jared Esselman, AOPA director of state government affairs.
The measure’s two principal legislative advocates, state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-District 44) and Rep. Tom Dent (R-District 13) expressed satisfaction that the issue they had made a priority of the 2015 lawmaking session had become law.
"Our state’s small airports keep our communities connected," said Hobbs, the ranking Democrat on the Transportation Committee in a Washington State Department of Transportation news release. "Unfortunately they are often overlooked. The intention of this bill is to fix that and ensure small airports have access to funding that will allow them to keep their passengers safe and their facilities up to date."
"This was a priority for me, and it means a lot to the aviation community," added Dent, a professional pilot since 1976 and an aviation business operator.
Kandace Harvey, president of the Washington State Aviation Alliance, noted that "the road to success on this important issue was paved with the time and effort of many individuals and their respective associations, alliances and organizations. We were able to speak to the Legislature with one voice in support of aviation."
Groups that worked in support of the measure include the Washington Airport Management Association, the Washington Aviation Association, the Washington Public Ports Association, the Washington Pilots Association, the Washington State Community Airport Association, the Recreational Aviation Foundation, the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association, the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association, and the Association of Washington Business.