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President's Perspective

Make Your Voice Heard This Election Year

By Ed Bolen

NBAA President and CEO Ed BolenIn this election year, it is as important as ever for people in the business aviation community to tell candidates for elected office what business aviation is all about and why it is essential in America today.

As we know, our industry confronts a host of policy challenges from Washington and elsewhere. Record deficits and declining budgets at the federal and state levels are leading government officials to put forward plans that would raise revenues by targeting business aviation. In just the past year alone, we've seen renewed discussion of per-flight user fees, punitive tax treatment and other onerous proposals.

The good news is that a significant number of elected leaders from both sides of the aisle, in and outside Washington, recognize the value of business aviation.

Take, for example, the governors in 36 states who have issued proclamations acknowledging the contributions of all general aviation, including business aviation.

We're also seeing bipartisan support for our industry in the congressional General Aviation (GA ) Caucuses, which are informal groups in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that are composed of nearly equal numbers of republicans and democrats. Some are pilots. Others are from rural districts with little or no airline service. Still others have job-generating aircraft manufacturers or aviation service companies in their states and districts. All of them understand the critical role of business aviation for citizens, companies and communities. And the support for the industry by the GA Caucuses is active and visible: at a meeting last October, Senate GA Caucus Co-Chair Mike Johanns (R-NE) said that the group is "one of the largest and most active in the Senate."

Despite these and other encouraging signs of support from policymakers, work must continue to correct mischaracterizations about general aviation and put forward its true face. The need to continue underscoring the industry's value was in view during that October meeting of the Senate GA Caucus, when member Ben Nelson (D-NE) noted that misperceptions about the industry are part of the reason why "general aviation is in peril at times."

NBAA agrees, and we'll keep promoting an understanding of business aviation, largely through the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign (www.noplanenogain.org), which we jointly sponsor with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

That said, our work to promote the industry's significance only will be effective – in this election year, or in any year – if candidates and elected officials are hearing your voice as well. There is nobody that a candidate or elected official will be more influenced by than you, a constituent and voter.

If you are not sure where those running for election or re-election stand on the issues important to business aviation, visit their web sites, contact their offices or attend a town hall meeting. Discuss the candidates and issues with others you know in business aviation, including regional or state business aviation groups.

Most importantly, make sure you tell candidates about the industry's presence and importance – not just where you live, but across the country. Our voice needs to be heard every year; in this election year, let's make it a priority.

Make your voice heard with your elected officials using NBAA's Contact Congress resource at www.nbaa.org/action, or share your thoughts on election year issues with NBAA at [email protected].

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