News & Information You’ll Want To Know In Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota & South Dakota
by Bryan Budds
Manager, AOPA Great Lakes Region
Beginning several years ago, the Wisconsin general aviation industry – ranging from Piper Cub owners to Fortune 500 Gulfstream operators to owners of aircraft repair facilities and everyone in between, began to notice Wisconsin was lagging behind other states in the region in aviation maintenance work. The topic was discussed at several state and regional aviation conferences, via many emails and calls, and at virtually every maintenance shop in the state. The problem was clear – Wisconsin was losing business to neighboring states that exempt aircraft maintenance from State sales tax.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor Scott Walker approved Senate Bill 348 which provides the sales tax exemption the entire industry, including AOPA, advocated in favor of very strongly. But, this article is not about the exemption itself, but rather the “coalition” that made it happen.
The coalition that loosely formed many years ago consisted of each of the Wisconsin aviation industry organizations including the Wisconsin Business Aviation Association (WBAA), Wisconsin Airport Management Association (WAMA), Wisconsin Aviation Trades Association (WATA), and AOPA. Individual businesses also played a significant role in achieving our goal with Wisconsin Aviation, NewView Technologies, Midwest Flyer Magazine, Gulfstream Aerospace, Cessna Aircraft and several state and local economic development organizations joining in on the push for this reform.
With a strong group of state and national organizations, large and small businesses, and others, the group was able to overcome the usual misconceptions of a measure, such as this being a ‘tax cut for the rich’ by showing the true story of general aviation in Wisconsin. Several legislative committees heard stories direct from the sources – pilots, airport managers, and repair stations from Oshkosh, Watertown, Madison, Milwaukee, Appleton and other areas – making the issue one of local significance to each legislator voting on the issue. Being able to counter misconceptions and explain the real local impact of aviation was critical and without the contributions of each organization, company, and individual, I honestly believe Senate Bill 348 and the reforms it provides would still be on Wisconsin aviation industry’s wish-list.
So, the next time you see a representative from any of the mentioned organizations, take time to thank them for their hard work, and remember that a united aviation community is vital to us all.
To see all the activity AOPA is working on in the Great Lakes, please visit twitter.com/aopagreatlakes for up-to-the-minute news and information!