The State Senate adopted SB 5031 by a unanimous vote March 4; the proposal would be make permanent a temporary renewable aeronautical loan program hailed by port authorities as a way to improve the economic development of rural communities.
The Community Aviation Revitalization Loan Program was first created through SSB 6090 in the 2018 Capital Budget, with $ 5 million in appropriations. Since then, that money has been invested in 11 projects statewide, many of which were cited during SB 5031. Public hearing of February 11 to the Ways and Means Committee of the Senate. However, a separate bill introduced that year creating a Permanent Council for the Revitalization of Community Aviation (CARB) was vetoed by Governor Jay Inslee.
The 2019 capital budget extended the lending program until July 2021. The SSB 5011 introduced last year also reportedly made the board permanent, but the measure failed to wipe out the House afterwards. its adoption in the Senate.
For smaller airports, low-interest loans give them more flexibility than airport aid grants offered by the Washington State Department of Transportation, which are limited to existing infrastructure.
Speaking ahead of the Senate vote on March 4, Senator David Frockt (D-46) told colleagues that “the testimony we heard at the Ways and Means Committee this year was probably the best I have ever heard.” heard. (It) really came down to… the actual effect. This program has the potential to really contribute to the economic development of the small counties and towns that have these small rural airports.
For the Port of Bremerton, a $ 750,000 CARB loan will allow them to build a multi-purpose facility that includes restaurants, an airport hangar and a pilot flight planning facility at a time when the port is also investing. $ 15.7 million to build a new Marina.
“Without this loan from CARB, the Port of Bremerton would not have been able to move forward with this multi-purpose facility this year,” airport manager Warren Hendrickson told members of Ways and Means at the time. of the public hearing on February 11.
Besides economic development, Senator Jeff Wilson (R-19) also noted that small airports can prove vital in natural disasters, such as the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980. “We depend on our airports. rural communities in our district for some form of economic benefit to our communities. It protects and helps in an emergency. Rural airports in particular need to be viable to help us. ”
SB 5031 has not yet been referred to a House committee. His accompanying bill HB 1030 awaits a vote on the floor of the House.