Caltrans? Aviation-Related Legislative Update Report

Sept Oct 2003 Cal Pilots Newsletter

Status of Selected Bills in the California Legislature August 8, 2003

This report is concerned with the FY 2003-04 Budget and Trailer Bills, and several other bills that are scheduled for hearing in August, after the Legislature reconvenes on August 18, 2003. Budget Bills: AB 1765 is the Budget Act for 2003, and was signed by Governor Gray Davis on August 2, 2003. While the 2003 Budget Act is not yet available, we understand that the bill, as it relates to airport grant funds, approved the transfer of $4.762 million from the Aeronautics Account to the General Fund (GF). These funds could have been used for the annual credit of funds to General Aviation (GA) Improvement Program grants for GA and Reliever airports, and acquisition and development (A&D) grants for 90%-state funded airport projects. In addition to these provisions, only $5.2 million in GA fuel tax revenues was available in FY 2002-03. It had been projected to be $7.5 million, so there may be potentially similar decreases in GA fuel tax revenues in future FYs.

As a result of aviation advocates? efforts in the Legislature?s budget deliberations, SB 1048 would repeal the line item transferring the $4.762 million from the Aeronautics Account to the GF. SB 1048 was amended in the Assembly, so the Senate will need to concur with the Assembly?s amendments before SB 1048 can be sent to the Governor. After reconvening on August 18, the Legislature will adjourn on September 12, 2003 for the remainder of the calendar year. If SB 1048 is enacted, and funds for airports become available, existing law distributes funds in this sequence:

  • 1.Annual credits to GA airports;
  • 2.Matching grants for federal AIP grants; and
  • 3.A&D grants, using 90% state funds.

    The Governor?s Mid-Year 2002-03 Budget Proposal, as reflected in SBX1 7, and his Proposed Budget for FY 2003-04, would have amended the Public Utilities Code to: a) When appropriated by the Legislature, permanently allow transfer of funds, for the $10,000 Annual Credits, from the Aeronautics Account to the GF, including any funds that public entities owning the airports accumulated over a five-year period; b) Suspend the Annual Credits for FY 2003-04; and c) Permanently require the California Transportation Commission (CTC), in awarding any aviation grants to eligible airports, including AIP Matching and A&D Grants, to give the highest priority to security projects at GA airports with less than 80,000 annual operations.

    Currently, no bill exists that would revise the distribution of airport funds from existing law, if SB 1048 restores them by amending the Budget Act of 2003 AB 694 (Levine) ?Use tax: Vehicles, Vessels, and Aircraft?: A recent amendment reinstated the June 2, 2003 text for imposition of the use tax, comparable to the sales tax, on vehicles, vessels, and aircraft for buyers claiming out-of-state exemptions. It would provide for an exemption for aircraft brought into California for the purpose of repair, retrofit, or modification, if the work is completed, and less than 25 hours of air time has been logged by the aircraft owner, or an agent designated by the owner who is operating the aircraft. If more than 25 hours is logged, then the aircraft would be subject to the use tax. The exemption would only apply to aircraft brought into the state after the operative date of the bill.

    For more information please go to: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/planning/aeronaut/htmlfile/legislation.html

    Editor?s Note: Considering how skillful California?s politician?s have become in finding ways to raise and create new taxes, don?t you agree that they should also make an equal effort to figure out how to become fiscally responsible? Is it just me, or do you agree that there appears to be no accountability when it comes to spending our tax dollars? Let me know what you think??ed

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