June 5, 2012

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has added his voice to the chorus of public officials asking President Obama to set aside his proposal for aviation user fees, outlined in the annual federal budget plan the president released earlier this year.

In a May 25 letter, the governor decried the Obama administration’s proposed $100 per-flight fee, citing multiple ways in which business airplanes and other general aviation (GA) aircraft are important to the Mount Rushmore State. He reminded President Obama of South Dakota’s dependence on GA for emergency services, including quick transport of blood, organs or patients, as well as to act upon business opportunities and reach global markets.

“The small businesses, farmers, charitable organizations and first responders who count on GA and utilize the airports which support it represent a strategically vital resource for our state,” Daugaard wrote. “For this reason, I strongly oppose the imposition of the ‘user fee’ taxes on GA operators in any form.”

Review the letter from South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard to President Obama (53KB, PDF

South Dakota is the 17th-largest state in the U.S., but the fifth-least populous, with just 824,082 people, for a population density of 10.6 people per square mile. GA is the only air service for 305 of the 311 named communities in the state. Only two cities with populations greater than 50,000 – Sioux Falls and Rapid City – have major airline service.

In his letter to the president, Daugaard called GA a “critical sector of our economy” that should not be hobbled with additional taxes such as the proposed user fees. GA provides more than 7,000 jobs in the state, and has an economic impact of more than $800 million per year, he added.

“[They]…will do more harm than good and put many jobs at risk,” the governor said of the proposed user fees. “For this reason, I strongly oppose the imposition of the ‘user fee’ taxes on GA operators in any form.”

The governors of Oklahoma, New Hampshire and Idaho, along with more than 100 mayors and city managers from across the country, have also protested the proposed fees. In addition, lawmakers in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have notified the president of their opposition to user fees.