AOPA works for members at the state and local level across the United States. Catch up on what the association has done for you recently in the Southern region.
An aviation task force in Tennessee has developed a five-point plan to help restore airport funding that was lost in 2015 when the state legislature passed a measure capping fuel tax payments by any single user at $10 million annually. That tax break was passed to help prevent Federal Express from moving refueling operations from its busy Memphis hub to a nearby state with lower fuel taxes. The combination of tax cuts and lower fuel prices will reduce the state’s aviation budget from past levels of $40 to $50 million down to $26 million for 2016, and state lawmakers have begun looking for alternative sources of funding for airport maintenance and improvement projects. The Aviation Tax Force proposals include creating an aviation Economic Development Fund, establishing a revolving loan fund, redirecting other aviation-related taxes and a special petroleum tax to the state’s Transportation Equity Fund, and converting a percentage of the state aviation fuel tax to a per-gallon tax. The Task Force proposals are currently before the Tennessee legislature and AOPA Southern Regional Manager Steve Hedges is following them closely. The South Carolina House of Representatives has now passed a measure that will fund airports for 2016 and beyond. The bill would steer proceeds from aircraft property taxes to the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission, which is responsible for maintaining the state’s airports. The Senate Finance Committee will consider the measure next. At issue is providing enough state funding to maintain airports and meet the required state-match for FAA Airport Improvement Program funds. The Florida legislature adjourned recently without including a proposed aircraft sales tax exemption in its 2016 budget. The state’s six percent sales tax means that many aircraft sellers fly their planes out of the state to be sold, saving buyers the tax hit. A study funded in part by AOPA found that eliminating the tax would generate an additional $324 million in new revenue and add dozens of new jobs in the state, as compared with the $30 million the sales tax would generate annually if all aircraft sales remained in state.