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Massachusetts State Legislator Honored With NBAA's Silk Scarf Award
Aviation Caucus Chairman Don Humason Proud to Fight for Business Aviation
NBAA recently presented Massachusetts State Representative Don Humason (R-Westfield) with the Association's distinguished Silk Scarf Award for his vigorous promotion of business aviation in the Bay State. The Silk Scarf Award recognizes special contributions to the business aviation community, and NBAA presented Humason with the award to honor his leadership of the Massachusetts Legislative Aviation Caucus and its efforts to keep general aviation airports and business aircraft in Massachusetts.
In 2005, Humason joined former State Representative Stephen Leduc (D-Marlboro) in forming the Massachusetts Legislative Aviation Caucus to save the state's tax exemption on aircraft sales and parts. Over the last five years, the caucus has twice defeated efforts to repeal the exemption, and now counts nearly 100 members in the Massachusetts state legislature, with Humason as chair.
Humason was presented with the Silk Scarf Award before nearly 200 of his constituents and state officials on August 20 at a Massachusetts Air National Guard reception on Westfield- Barnes Municipal Airport (BAF) preceding the Westfield International Air Show.
NBAA representatives recently spoke with Rep. Humason about receiving the Silk Scarf Award, the mission of the caucus and the importance of business aviation to Massachusetts.
NBAA: What do you see as the role of the Massachusetts Legislative Aviation Caucus? What are your goals?
Humason: Our job is to show our fellow legislators how general aviation is essential to the economy of our state, to its transportation infrastructure and to providing access to our world-class businesses, colleges and universities. This is especially important for places with limited airline service. The second largest city in Massachusetts is Worcester, and they only recently got a very limited airline connection, and only three days a week.
Because of that, we've worked to protect general aviation airports in Massachusetts and the state's tax exemption for aircraft sales and parts.
NBAA: How does the tax exemption benefit the state of Massachusetts?
Humason: Since it was passed eight years ago, the tax exemption has done exactly what it was designed to do: bring business to Massachusetts and encourage companies to buy their aircraft here, have them serviced here and base them here.
Our neighbors, like Connecticut and New Hampshire, have very competitive tax policies. And we're a small state. It's easy for aircraft to fly right over Massachusetts, taking their businesses and the jobs they provide along with them. For many companies, from flight schools and repair stations to charter operations and multinationals, the exemption keeps them in Massachusetts.
Those are high-skilled, high-paying jobs, which taxing aviation would only drive out. If the tax exemption were to be repealed, the state government might collect sales tax on the first aircraft sold, but after that there would never be another aircraft sold in Massachusetts.
NBAA: Has the exemption made a difference in your district, for instance at Westfield- Barnes Airport?
Humason: Absolutely. Eight years ago, one of my constituents, the founder of one of the two FBOs at Westfield-Barnes told me that if the exemption were to stay in place, his hangar would quickly fill up. And today that hangar is full. It's a bustling airport. We share it with the military, very harmoniously; there is a flight school on the airport, an aircraft restoration business, and it is where General Dynamics' flight department is based. The exemption has tremendously benefitted our community.
NBAA: You've made a big difference for business aviation in Massachusetts, and now other states are following your model and establishing their own aviation caucuses. What does it mean to you to receive the Silk Scarf Award?
Humason: I was truly humbled. When [NBAA Regional Representative] Dean Saucier read what the scarf stood for, I was so proud of our caucus. We have a great group, representing both sides of the aisle, and I was honored to accept it on behalf of all our members. And I'm proud that other states are modeling caucuses after ours. I want the whole Northeast to be welcoming to aviation.
I'm so grateful to NBAA and the regional groups in Massachusetts for the support they provide through grassroots advocacy and the information they have. I'm not a pilot; I just love airports and I love airplanes. For a non-pilot, this is the greatest honor I could receive.