Inside the Sausage Factory: SB 27 Abolishing State Pilot Licensing

It’s Christmas in the Capital for small-aircraft pilots, as the Governor proposes to abolish state licensing of pilots, a program that is forecast (not “forecasted,” Legislative Revenue Office) to raise $200,000 each biennium and costs about $3,000 a year to collect — with the net funds going the search and rescue operation for missing pilots.

The net result is that cities and towns across Oregon will not be reimbursed for fuel costs for search and rescue operations, which means that ordinary taxpayers will be picking up a tab that pilots formerly helped pay. Because apparently Oregon just has too darn much money, and pilots shouldn’t be expected to pay for programs that are entirely for their benefit.

Analysis:

The measure abolishes the aircraft pilot state registration and the pilot registration fee. The pilot registration fee is $24 for the first year and $48 for a biennial renewal. Currently the revenue from the pilot registration fees fund the search and rescue activities of the Office of Emergency Management, and reimburses municipalities for fuel costs associated with search and rescue activities.
 
The Department of Aviation notes that search and rescue activities will continue to be paid for, as directed by ORS 835.060, but that the program will utilize revenues from aircraft registrations instead of the pilot registration revenue. The fees for aircraft registrations were increased in HB 2075 (2015).
 
The Department of Aviation and the Office of Emergency Management, within the Oregon Military Department, anticipate signing a renewable five-year interagency agreement to continue the transfers to the Military Department for reimbursement.
 
There is a minimal expenditure impact to the agency by eliminating the pilot registration process and transferring the search and rescue activities to the Aircraft Registration program within the agency.
 
This concept is included as a Policy Option Package in the Department of Aviation’s Governor’s Recommended Budget. The Legislative Fiscal Office believes this measure warrants a subsequent referral to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means Committee for consideration of this measure’s budgetary impact on the Department of Aviation’s budget.

Measure Description: Eliminates aircraft pilot state registration.
 
Revenue Impact:  Revenue reduction due to eliminating pilot registration.

Impact Explanation:

The measure will amend sections of ORS 835 and 837 to abolish Pilot Registration and the Pilot Registration Fee. Currently, Pilot Registration revenue provides funding for search and rescue  activities.

ORS 835.060 and 837.050 allows Aircraft Registration revenue to be used for search and rescue activities. During the 2015 Legislative Session, Aircraft Registration fees were increased and  will lead to a forecasted [sic] $202,257 in revenue each biennium.

It is estimated that in the 17-19 biennium Oregon Department of Aviation will receive $161,375 of revenue from Pilot Registration Fees and $157,499 in the 19-21 biennium. These estimates are based on revenue forecasts that take into consideration the declining population of pilots and the rates of $24 paid the first year and $48 for a renewal paid biennially.        

Abolishing this fee will  leave an estimated $20,172 of revenue that will be shifted to the Aircraft Registration appropriation, along with the ending balance in Search and Rescue, (forecasted [sic] to be $27,108)
 
If Pilot Registration is abolished the department’s costs will be reduced $5,740 and $6,557 in the 2019- 21 biennium. Those cost reductions are not included in the above revenue numbers.