Airport Funding Front & Center At Statehouses Across The Region

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

I think it’s no coincidence that at the height of aviation conference season, six of the region’s legislative bodies are considering changes to the way airports receive state funding and the way states provide matching funds for Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants. Starting in the northwest, North Dakota’s legislature continues to move legislation increasing airport funds by augmenting existing aircraft registration fees. A bill to allow revenue from invested airport funds to be deposited in the airport fund has already cleared the North Dakota Senate. Together, these are common sense solutions to address the very significant airport infrastructure need in North Dakota and AOPA continues to work with the North Dakota Aviation Council and North Dakota Aeronautics Commission to achieve passage of a fair and equitable solution.

In neighboring Minnesota, two pieces of legislation addressing the taxation of “mogas” used in aircraft continues to progress. These bills, or ‘files’ as they are known in Minnesota, would ensure that mogas used in an aircraft is taxed at the appropriate aviation fuel rate of $0.05 per gallon, rather than the $0.285 per gallon that road fuel is taxed. Additionally, the legislation would require the revenue collected from mogas be deposited in the state airport fund, rather than the highway fund as is currently happening. AOPA is pleased to support the Minnesota Business Aviation Association on this legislation.

In Illinois, a bill to eliminate the State sales tax on aviation fuels and replace it with a flat $0.10 per gallon excise tax, in addition to expanding an existing sales tax exemption for aircraft maintenance, has been introduced at the urging of the Illinois Aviation Trades Association with support from AOPA. This proposal is very similar to an aviation fuel tax reform achieved just two years ago in Indiana with one small caveat… In Illinois, the revenue would be used to support airports. In Indiana, it is not. However, AOPA, working in conjunction with the Aviation Association of Indiana, is supporting a fix that would require all revenue collected from an aviation user to be used to support the aviation system.

Moving again eastward, Ohio’s legislature continues to debate the most beneficial and equitable way to increase airport funding. Two pending bills would eliminate the State’s existing 5.75% sales tax and put in place a reduced aviation fuel excise tax with the entirety of this new revenue being deposited in the state airport fund – providing a significant increase in funds available for airport projects in the state. The Ohio Aviation Association, AOPA, and several local aviation and community economic development organizations have signed on to support the bill as the Ohio legislative session kicks off.

Finally, Michigan again is preparing for a heated infrastructure debate across all modes of transportation as the legislature will have a vote to raise the statewide sales tax on all goods to 7% to provide funds for “transportation infrastructure.” Sadly, to Michigan’s legislators, transportation infrastructure means “roads,” as the ballot proposal would not address any aviation needs, despite having several pieces of widely supported legislation before them in the previous session. But, AOPA, the Michigan Business Aviation Association, and the Michigan Association of Airport Executives are looking forward to a fruitful year where the issue of insufficient airport funding can be put to rest.

On the conference front, I’ve had the pleasure to attend the Michigan Airports Conference, the Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium, the Great Minnesota Aviation Gathering, the South Dakota Airport Conference and several others, including the Wisconsin Aviation Conference, to discuss these issues and all of AOPA’s efforts to strengthen general aviation. If you are near one of these conferences, please stop by and say hello and support all the great organizations I have mentioned in this update. And, of course, plan to stop by the AOPA Regional Fly-In at Anoka County-Blaine Airport on August 23, 2015 to let me know your thoughts on this and any other issue impacting you and your flying!

Contact Bryan Budds   @

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