Mayor Carl Brewer has joined 77 other mayors in 44 states in a letter of opposition to the aviation tax increases proposed by President Barrack Obama.
During a Tuesday morning press conference with aviation reporters from national and local publications, Mayor Brewer questioned the logic of various revenue measures which target general aviation.
“I’m struggling to try to understand why the President is doing this,” Mayor Brewer told the reporters. “I cringe each and every time those comments are made.”
Mayor Brewer joined Mayor James Councill from the small community of Franklin, Va., in defense of the general aviation industry during the morning press conference convened by the Alliance for Aviation Across America.
Formed in 2007, the Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of over 5,500 members including individuals, businesses, agricultural groups, FBO’s, small airports, elected officials, charitable organizations, and leading business and aviation groups that support the interest of the general aviation community across various public policy issues.
Mayor Brewer noted the huge impact that general aviation has on the local, state and national economy, Imposition of “user fee” taxes proposed recently by the President would devastate the small business and groups that use general aviation, he said.
The full text of the Mayor’s statement follows, along with the letter from the 77 mayors.
Mayor Brewer's Statement:
As Mayor of the "Air Capital of the World," we here in Wichita certainly know firsthand the immense value of general aviation for our economy, our state and our country.
Wichita is the world’s leader in general aviation manufacturing, producing 40 percent of the world's GA aircraft. This is an industry which supports over 1.2 million jobs around the country, $150 billion in economic impact and is one of the only US-based manufacturing industries that contributes positively to the balance of trade.
According to a 2010 report by the Kansas Department of Transportation, this industry supports $10.4 billion of economic activity and supports over 47,000 jobs for the state of Kansas alone. Not only that, in 2009, total economic output and expenditures from airports and visitors who arrive by air comprised 8.5% of the state’s estimated gross domestic product.
In addition, general aviation airports across our state support over $1 billion in wages for the people of Kansas, and general aviation is crucial to protecting and supporting agriculture, particularly given that Kansas is one of the top 10 states in the U.S. in terms of agriculture production.
It is for all these reasons and more that I am deeply concerned and frankly confused by the President's recent comments about general aviation, as well as his recent proposal to hit this industry with new tax burdens when it is already struggling to rebound from the economic downturn.
While it is clear that the President would have the American people believe that general aviation is used by mostly corporate CEOs and wealthy private fliers, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that the vast majority of those who use general aviation are small- to mid-sized businesses, flight schools, charitable groups and others.
These businesses and the manufacturing industry that depends on general aviation have already faced difficult times between the economic downturn and a hostile environment that does not recognize the immense value of these aircraft to our economy. Harmful comments and proposals such as those recently made by the President only contribute to an already difficult and further jeopardize this industry's ability to create and sustain jobs. Due to the economic downturn, over 20,000 workers in this industry have been laid off already.
I don’t know how we can claim to support job creation and stimulate our economy while vilifying such a crucial sector of our economy. It is for all these reasons that I recently joined with over 70 Mayors from 40 states across the country to ask him to stop the attacks on general aviation and to support this crucial segment of our economy.
Earlier this year, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Wichita and said that the efforts of general aviation manufacturers "are essential to meeting President Obama’s goal of doubling exports within five years, just as they’re essential to keeping America on a trajectory toward economic recovery… You will be one of the leaders in helping the global economy pick up.”
I urge the President to echo these remarks and recognize the critical importance of this sector for our economy and help support the millions of American jobs that depend on it.
Joint Statement by 77 US Mayors
September 27, 2011
The Honorable President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to express our deep concern that your comments about general aviation in recent weeks and months have not only mischaracterized these aircraft and their crucial importance for our economy, but have suggested that the businesses and communities that depend on this form of transportation can afford an increased tax burden for general aviation operators. On behalf of over 77 communities in 44 states, we write to let you know that for thousands of towns and communities like ours around the country, general aviation is a vital part of our economy and national infrastructure, and we are extremely concerned about the repercussions of your statements on this important lifeline to communities around the nation.
General aviation supports 1.2 million American jobs, over $150 billion in economic impact annually, and is a vital economic engine for our national economy. However, it is also a struggling industry – in just the first six months of 2011, there has been a 15.5% drop in general aviation aircraft shipments, and billings for general aviation have dropped 22.3%. Since 2008, manufacturers have also laid off roughly 20,000 workers, which is additionally concerning given that the general aviation industry remains one of the only sectors in U.S. manufacturing that still contributes positively to the balance of trade.
In addition, general aviation aircraft and the airports they utilize are a literal lifeline to our communities, providing access for business growth, law enforcement, disaster relief, medical care and other services. They are utilized to help transport blood and organs to residents in rural communities, reunite veterans back from overseas with their families, and help our companies to reach customers in markets that otherwise could not be reached.
As you know well, the vast majority of businesses and organizations that own and utilize general aviation are not wealthy CEOs. Rather, 85% are small to mid-sized businesses and organizations that rely on these aircraft to reach far-off plants and customers, serve rural markets without access to commercial aviation, or deliver medical care and other services. We can tell you firsthand that these aircraft are a crucial tool and resource for businesses in our communities; businesses that keep our communities afloat and help workers to be able to continue to put food on their table for their families.
Also concerning to us is the recent discussion of new “user fee” taxes on general aviation aircraft operators. These taxes would mean not only an additional tax burden, but a huge administrative burden on businesses, farms and organizations that use general aviation and that would have to literally keep track of invoices for fees for thousands of take-offs and landings. In addition, at a time when our government is supposed to be finding ways to reduce government spending, we do not understand why some in Congress seek to create huge, new bureaucracy within the FAA to administer these new taxes.
At such a vulnerable time for our economy, we need to be doing everything we can to support jobs and help to stimulate our economy, not crippling an important industry which represents a lifeline to communities such as ours around the nation. We stand ready to work with you on this and all issues related to local communities around the nation.
Mayor Debbie Garrett – Stroud, OK
Mayor Marvin Belcher – Huntingburg, IN
Mayor Leo Marshall – Salmon, ID
Mayor Vern P. Powers – Hastings, NE
Mayor Elaine Horn – Sedalia, MO
Mayor Godfrey – Ogden City, UT
Mayor Dick Kirchoff Le Mars, IA
Mayor Carl Brewer – Wichita, KS
Mayor J. Scott Padgett – Concord, NC
Mayor Christopher J. Shannon – Bay City, MI
Mayor Stan Skipworth – Corona, CA
Mayor Carl Shaff – Independence, IA
Mayor Jim Thatcher – Clay Center, KS
Mayor Marsha Mitchell – Centerville, IA
Mayor James A. Erb – Charles City, IA
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. – Commerce, GA
Mayor Jim Conley – Blairsville, GA
Mayor Ronnie A. Dixon – Vidalia, GA
Mayor Rudy Wright – Hickory, NC
Mayor Brian Roth – Plymouth, NC
Mayor Charles C. Farrior, Jr. – Wallace, NC
Mayor Michael E. Fincher – Logansport, IN
Mayor Herbert H. Arihood – Rensselaer, IN
Mayor Ernest B. Wiggins – Warsaw, IN
Mayor Ken Miyagishima – Las Cruces, NM
Mayor William E. Johnson, III (City Manager) – Petersburg, VA
Mayor Gus Raymond Alborn – Ruidoso, NM
Mayor Lisa Wong – Fitchburg, MA
Mayor Chris Gibbs – Safford, AZ
Mayor William F. Scanlon Jr. – Beverly, MA
Mayor James P. Councill, III – Franklin, VA
Mayor Neil Segotta – Raton, NM
Mayor Jay Jaxson, Jr. – Eufaula, AL
Mayor Gene Robinson – Anniston, AL
Mayor Willard Wright – Quinwood, WV
Mayor Tommy Irwin – Corinth, MS
Mayor Kerry W. Hill – Ripley, MS
Mayor Nan Gorman – Hazard, KY
Mayor Tim Walker – Elizabethtown,KY
Mayor LeRoy Goodman - Fernley, NV
Mayor Charles Sammarone - Youngstown, OH
Mayor Jim Kight - Troutdale, OR
Mayor Paul Grenier - Berlin, NH
Mayor Verne E. Rupright - Wasilla, AK
Mayor Daniel Guerrero - San Marcos, TX
Mayor Roger Van Horn – Nacogdoches TX
Mayor Mary Janacaro - Hensleigh - Whitehall, MT
Mayor Marianne Maynard - Stuttgart, AR
Mayor Michael J. O’Brien, Warren, OH
Mayor James. P. Swoger - East Liverpool, OH
Mayor Stephen Smith - Pinedale, WY
Mayor James Brown - Rome, NY
Mayor Richard P. Vilello Jr - Lock Haven, PA
Mayor Val Truelsen - Dolores, CO
Mayor Michelle Black - Mancos, CO
Mayor Dan Porter - Cortez, CO
Mayor Timothy A. Helbling - Mandan, ND
Mayor Nicholas J. Helmer - Prospect Heights, IL
Mayor Knox H. White - Greenville, SC
Mayor Don Godbey- Mauldin, SC
Mayor Alan Larson - Schaumburg, IL
Mayor Nancy Adams - Pequot Lakes, MN
Mayor Christopher Meyer - Marshfield, WI
Mayor Robert Apgar - DeLand, FL
Mayor Robert C. Willey - Easton, MD
Mayor Margaret Larson - Arlington, WA
Mayor Robert Goedde - Chelan, WA
Mayor Joe Scholtz - St. Louis, MO
Mayor Dave McGirr - Huron, SD
Mayor David Hahn - Wall, SD
Mayor John F. Hart - Philip, SD
Mayor Glen Haines - Faith, SD
Mayor Thomas Lauzon – Barre, VT
Mayor Norm Archibald – Abilene, TX
Mayor Robert A. Myer – New Roads, LA
Mayor Bill Robertson – Minden, LA
Eugene J. Conlogue, Town Manager, Millinocket, Maine