Colorado business group decries veto of aircraft tax break


The Colorado Aviation Business Association spoke up Thursday about Gov. John Hickenlooper’s veto of a tax break for charter aircraft carriers.

The legislation exempting the aircraft owners from paying sales and use taxes could have cost the state budget up to $223,500 a year, according to legislative analysts. Supporters said it would have created jobs and helped smaller regional airports not routinely served by the scheduled airline service.

House Bill 1083 passed the House 37-23 and the Senate 30-4. Nonetheless, Hickenlooper said in his veto letter that he was unconvinced the tax break would create jobs, keep the operators from moving the aircraft to other states or other benefits, promised by supporters.

“We are unpersuaded by that argument as stronger data was not presented demonstrating this bill will lead to greater aircraft purchases — specifically, purchases that would not have otherwise occurred in the absence of this bill — and private aircrafts stored in Colorado. We believe that a more comprehensive analysis of tax policy around aircrafts is warranted,” the governor stated in his veto letter.

The bill was one of four Hickenlooper struck down on late Tuesday afternoon. He vetoed a total of nine this year, the most in his eight years as governor.

In a statement Thursday, the CABA noted that Hickenlooper’s veto came just days after he declared June General Aviation Appreciation Month. That declaration acknowledged that aviation supports 265,700 jobs with a combined annual payroll of $12.6 billion in Colorado, including 74 business and general aviation airports.

“CABA is very disappointed to hear of Governor Hickenlooper’s 11th-hour decision to veto this important jobs bill, especially considering the strong and bipartisan support it received in the legislature,” CABA chairwoman Kandi Spangler said in a statement. “At a minimum, we would have appreciated the opportunity to meet with him and address any concerns directly.”

The association said 39 other states offer the exemption. House Bill 1083 was sponsored by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, and Lang Sias, R-Arvada, with Sens. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, and Angela Williams, D-Denver.

“The legislation would have eliminated financial obstacles for small commercial aviation businesses who connect rural towns and communities throughout Colorado,” stated Chris Swathwood, CABA’s chairman of legislative affairs. “This bill is about access and creating jobs throughout Colorado.”

Swathwood said the organization would work with the next governor — Hickenlooper is term-limited — to pass a “fully vetted bill.”

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