By NYS County Highway Superintendents Association, Inc.
Representatives of New York’s aviation industry warned a panel of State lawmakers this week that the critical lack of infrastructure investment, competition from other states and a sagging State and national economy continues to impact airports and related businesses.
In prepared testimony submitted at a public hearing held by members of the Assembly Transportation Committee, Carl Beardsley, President of the New York Aviation Management Association (NYAMA), expressed concerns regarding the State’s adopted Two Year Capital Plan and the needs of New York’s aviation sector.
Beardsley testified that the State’s Five Year Capital Plan, developed by the Department of Transportation as a minimum benchmark for State investment in transportation, concluded that airports would need between $20 million and $30 million of State investment per year in order to maintain core infrastructure.
“The adopted two-year plan, however, has no State funding for aviation…now that the Transportation Bond Act has expired,” the NYAMA President stated.
The purpose of NYAMA’s testimony was to explain that the State’s Two Year Capital Plan for transportation does not include vital funding for New York airports. This threatens the aviation industry’s future economic and financial contributions to the State. NYAMA urged increased State investment in revenue and job creating airport projects and reform of the State’s tax laws.
“Airports are economic engines fueling growth in the communities they serve,” said Beardsley, as he enumerated the economic benefits of New York State airports: Over $35 billion in annual economic activity attributable to aviation; 350,000 jobs with a total payroll of $13.4 billion; more than $2.8 billion in State and local tax revenue; economic benefits equal to 7% of the nation’s total aviation impacts, according to a State Department of Transportation Study.
Specifically, the adopted State Budget allocates $4 million for the federal FAA Airport Improvement Program state match-down from $8 million a few years ago-and eliminates language that allows for the transfer of unallocated AIP funds to the State AIR 99 airport grant program.
“Most glaring,” Beardsley said, “is that there is no appropriation to replace the funding for airports under the Transportation Bond Act that expired last year.” While all other modes of transportation were funded at levels at or near the 5 Year Capital Plan estimates, aviation, a very small part of the overall transportation budget, got nothing.
Beardsley, who is also the Commissioner of Aviation for the Greater Binghamton Airport, warned that, “Without this critical State financial investment, important projects that increase safety, enhance customer convenience and generate revenues to sustain airport service cannot go forward.” This will cost the State dearly in the short and long term in lost economic growth and potential job creation.
Instead, New York should adopt a strategy to fully exploit the potential of New York’s airports and aviation industries as drivers of new, high-quality and sustainable jobs, and to attract greater private sector investment, according to NYAMA. Considering the importance of airport projects to jobs and overall economic development, NYAMA strongly urges that the 2-year plan be amended to include allocations of funding for airports. “We need to find a way to restore State funding for critical New York airport projects,” the testimony stated.
As one strategy, NYAMA urged the Assembly to act to exempt the purchase of business aircraft from sales tax. Many of New York’s neighboring states have recently acted to either not tax general aviation aircraft purchases or to provide more favorable tax treatment for such purchases. Consequently, New York continues to lose aircraft and aviation jobs to other states. Department of Transportation sponsored analysis shows that each plane or business jet represents on average four jobs and $1 million of annual economic impact.
“The basing of more of these aircraft here will mean more high-quality permanent jobs for New Yorkers and more revenue for the State,” NYAMA argued. “Reforming State aviation tax policy would go a long way to restoring New York as the preferred state for individuals and businesses to locate their aircraft-and employees,” concluded Beardsley.
The Association made the full submitted testimony available on their website at www.nyama.com.
NYAMA represents over 120 airports and aviation organizations across New York. Our diverse membership includes small general aviation airports as well as large hub airports and aviation professionals from all walks of life. NYAMA has been the Voice of Aviation in New York for 34 years.