by Bryan Budds
Manager, AOPA Great Lakes Region
Now that most of the legislative sessions have adjourned for the year, AOPA is focusing its efforts on one of the remaining year-long legislatures still in session – Michigan.
For the past 10 or so years, Michigan has attempted to deal with the issue of dwindling investment in infrastructure, coupled with decreasing fuel tax revenue and a tax rate that puts Michigan in the top five most expensive states in the country to purchase fuel – an issue that impacts not only road construction and bridge maintenance, but also the runways, taxiways, navigational aids, and many other pieces of aviation infrastructure that many of us rely on to safely arrive at our destinations.
During last year’s legislative session, a temporary fix was achieved by dedicating a small portion of the sales tax revenue collected on aviation fuels to the State Aeronautics Fund, which is used to maintain and upgrade our airports. Now that the temporary fix is set to expire in September 2013, the legislature is examining a comprehensive set of bills to address the long-term preservation of all of Michigan’s infrastructure.
House Bills 4571 and 4572 deal with aviation fuel taxes and infrastructure funding. Together, the bills would eliminate the six-percent sales tax and the $0.03 per gallon excise tax and replace both with a single, 4 percent tax on the wholesale price of both jet fuel and aviation gasoline. The revenue generated from this tax would be dedicated to the State Aeronautics Fund, thereby eliminating the projected funding shortfall. In a rare moment of unity, the bills were supported by the entire aviation industry, including AOPA, airport managers, the business aviation sector, and the airlines.
As I write this report, the bills have been approved by the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and are awaiting the legislators’ return from their summer break to pass the bills onto the Senate. In the meantime, if you are based in Michigan or fly to airports in the state, I encourage you to visit www.michiganlegislature.org and urge Speaker of the House Jase Bolger to support House Bills 4571 and 4572.