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Aviation loan board bill finally clears legislature

Aviation loan board bill finally clears legislature

The State House passed SB 5031 by a unanimous vote on April 11, which would make a temporary revolving aviation loan program permanent – after years of unsuccessful attempts to do so.

“This will be the second-best bill you’ll get to vote on this session,” Rep. Tom Dent (R-13) told colleagues on April 11.  “It’s designed for our small airports to become more self-sustaining. The program has been extremely popular.”

The legislation completes a multi-year effort to preserve the Community Aviation Revitalization Loan Program that was first created via SSB 6090 in the 2018 capital budget then given a $5 million appropriation. Another bill introduced that session creating a permanent Community Aviation Revitalization Board (CARB) was vetoed by Governor Jay Inslee. However, the loan program was preserved through additional capital budget appropriations while legislation to create a permanent board failed to pass.

In addition to port authorities and small airport managers, the state Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC) also recommended extending the program. One of its benefits is that it allows airports to use the funds for a greater variety of projects than allowed under the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) Airport Aid Grants.

The financial needs of small airports was highlighted in a 2013 WSDOT study which found that 134 of Washington’s public airports will require $3.6 billion over the next 20 years. 

The bill creates a board composed of members that include:

  • Five members appointed by WSDOT to represent ports, counties, cities, airport managers, and pilots;
  • A WSDOT Aviation Division representative;
  • A Public Works Board representative; and
  • A Community Economic Revitalization Board non-legislative member.

The Senate president has signed the bill which now requires Inslee’s signature. The bill takes effect June 30.

TJ Martinell is a native Washingtonian and award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Bellevue, he’s been involved in the news industry since working at his high school newspaper.

His investigative reporting for various community newspapers in the Puget Sound region has been recognized by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.

A graduate of Eastern Washington University, he has a B.A. in journalism and was the news editor of EWU’s student university newspaper.

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