Lawmakers, Aviation Companies Disappointed in Pritzker Tax Exemption Veto

Nov 26, 2019

Gov. J.B. Pritzker vetoed a bill Monday to exempt private aviation repair companies from paying sales taxes on parts through 2024.

The bill passed through the General Assembly with broad bipartisan majorities. The governor explained his reasoning during an appearance earlier this month in Peoria.

"This bill would forgive $50 million of taxes that are owed by people in this private jet industry," he said. "And I just don't think it's right given the state of our finances in the state of Illinois." 

The previous sales tax exemption for the industry expired in 2014. Since then, the Illinois Department of Revenue hasn't required aviation companies to collect the taxes.

Lawmakers and aviation companies say the exemption is needed for Illinois to stay competitive with other states.

Scott Welch is CEO of Bylerly Aviation in Peoria. He said more than 30 other states already have similar exemptions - including Indiana.

"This isn't really about rich people flying around without paying sales tax. It's about hundreds of middle class jobs that are dependent on upgrades to many of these aging aircraft," Welch said. 

State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) the governor's veto threatens nearly 3,400 jobs statewide.

“The reality of the situation is that this exemption helps our state remain competitive in the aviation industry, and it needs to be reinstated. Without it, aviation companies will outsource these good-paying jobs to other states," Koehler said in a statement. 

This marks Pritzker's first major veto of his term as governor. He has vetoed other bills, mainly because they duplicate other already-passed legislation. If brought up again in the spring, lawmakers would have enough votes to override a second gubernatorial veto of the legislation.