Jan. 20, 2016

Building on the momentum from their inaugural meeting last October, organizers of the Florida General Aviation (GA) Caucus recently met to urge all state legislators to financially support GA airports and embrace a tax exemption on aircraft sales and related services. Proposed by the Florida Aviation Business Association (FABA), the tax exemption would help Florida aviation businesses remain competitive with neighboring states.

Caption: NBAA’s Scott O’Brien (third from left) meets with Florida Sen. Thad Altman (fourth from left) and other members of Florida’s General Aviation Caucus. Not pictured is Florida Rep. Charles Van Zant.

The second meeting of the Florida GA Caucus was held in the state capital of Tallahassee on Jan. 14, just as the legislature’s 2016 legislative session got underway.

“It was an excellent meeting,” said Lisa Waters, CEO of the Florida Airports Council, which organized the gathering. “We had approximately 30 representatives from across our industry, as well as [caucus co-chairs] State Representative Charles Van Zant and State Senator Thad Altman and other legislators who understand the importance of aviation to our state.”

“I was pleased to hear Rep. Van Zant speak about the success of aircraft sales and use tax legislation passed last year in New York,” noted Scott O’Brien, NBAA senior manager of finance and tax policy. “He understands how tax policies that attract business aviation to the state will bring high-paying jobs and economic growth, which are also major priorities for Florida Governor Rick Scott.”

Another topic of the caucus meeting was a measure to ensure that funding for GA airport projects in the state remains revenue-neutral, which Waters said would protect funding sources for smaller airports.

“Air carrier airports have multiple revenue sources available to them, but smaller GA airports rely heavily on state funds and grants funded through the fuel tax,” she added. “Our analysis shows that, as currently written, the law could result in anywhere from $8 million to $10 million in depletions in that fund over a multi-year period.”

Also participating in the caucus meeting were officials from the Tampa Business Aviation Association (TBAA), along with managers from approximately a dozen Florida GA airports, including Venice Municipal Airport and Flagler County Airport, as well as officials from large commercial airports in Florida that have strong GA user bases, such as Orlando International Airport and Tampa International Airport.

“It’s important to have Florida voices heard on these issues, and it’s encouraging to see broad interest and participation by legislators in the meeting,” said NBAA Southeast Regional Representative Greg Voos. “NBAA applauds Rep. Van Zant and Sen. Altman for their leadership on general aviation issues in Florida.”