June 9, 2014
Listen to a NBAA Flight Plan podcast on the 2014 NBAA Regional Leadership Roundtable.
Don Hitch remembers well the battle over Washington state’s proposed aviation use tax.
“The use tax for decades was under $100 regardless of the aircraft size or type. The new use tax that was being introduced in state House Bill 3176, and companion bill HB 6873, would have increased the tax liability up to 1,400 percent,” said Don Hitch, former treasurer of the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association. “A company owning an aircraft valued at $10,000,000 would have been liable for $50,000 of additional taxes if the measures would have been approved.”
The outcry from business aviation interests in Washington was immediate and extreme, according to Hitch, who is chairman of the NBAA Access Committee’s Local and Regional Subcommittee.
“Business aircraft operators around the state were considering leaving because of that,” he said. “But I recall the regional representative from NBAA testifying in Olympia on behalf of aviation entities.”
The result? A compromise that Hitch said protected the financial interests of aircraft operators – something he believes may not have happened without the assistance of NBAA.
It was just one example of the ongoing synergy Hitch said is growing between NBAA and regional business aviation organizations around the country.
“The knowledge and experience in that environment carried a tremendous amount of weight,” he said. “It wasn’t a bunch of rookies going before the legislature to testify when that’s something they had no experience in doing. They [NBAA officials] really helped.”
Regional business aviation leaders met on June 5 in San Antonio, TX for the 2014 NBAA Regional Leadership Roundtable, a unique annual forum for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences on how to further business aviation interests at the local level.
“It’s a two-way street,” Hitch observed. While NBAA is able to bring legislative and operational expertise to regional groups, those same local groups are the eyes and ears of NBAA in every city hall, county commission and state house in America. When the interests of business aircraft operators are at stake in any of those venues, Hitch said, NBAA is ready to respond with facts, figures and expert testimony whenever such assistance is requested by its valued regional affiliates.
“It’s not like the national group is horning in on the locals,” Hitch hastened to add, explaining that NBAA offers help to regional groups whenever they request it, while also making sure that those groups retain their autonomy.