Ohio’s new $71 billion state budget contains a "significant" increase in funding for airport projects, while two measures that could have weakened future airport support were rejected after aviation advocates worked to defeat them, said Bryan Budds, AOPA Great Lakes regional manager.
AOPA members and other aviation advocates sent a strong message that aviation funding should go to improve state airport infrastructure, not be used for other purposes, said Budds.
He commented following the signing by Ohio Gov. John Kasich of a state budget bill for fiscal 2016-2017 that provides $6 million in additional revenue for airport infrastructure upgrades. Aviation investments had previously been flat-funded at less than $1 million in state appropriations, Budds said.
In June, AOPA reported that aviation’s supporters in the legislature had countered an effort to create authority for a quasi-governmental entity, the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee, to exert oversight of the airport funding process. Aviation advocates also turned back a provision to permit state airport infrastructure dollars to be used for what Budds described as "loosely defined economic development projects."
"AOPA members from across the state stepped up to make their voice heard throughout the budget process in Ohio," Budds said. "The message to ensure that community airports are appropriately funded was heard loudly and clearly in legislative offices in Columbus."
AOPA is looking forward to working with the Ohio Department of Transportation to ensure that the additional funds are used to improve airports across the state, he said. AOPA worked closely with budget negotiators, administration officials, and other organizations to ensure airports and the funding stream they rely on was protected.
The result, Budds said, was "a significant increase in the airport appropriation, up from approximately $750,000 annually."