The state’s chief economist, Amy Baker, says the state’s transportation trust fund – that’s the money pot funded with fuel, tag and license taxes, will have an extra $200-million to draw from this fiscal year. Baker says tax revenue from highway and diesel fuel sales is up but, she’s perplexed by one category that’s bucking the overall trend.
“The only one that we didn’t see reasons to believe that it’s going to meet the current estimate was the aviation fuel tax,” Baker said in a phone interview Tuesday.
But Baker also pointed out that less tax revenue from aviation fuel doesn’t necessarily mean fewer people are flying, just that not as many planes are in the air.
“There was a merger that’s been approved between American and US Airways, we thought that might have some effect over time and then we had a slightly lower tourism forecast coming from areas where we would think people would use planes to fly in to Florida,” Baker explained.
Federal aviation data for 2011 and 2012 show the number of passengers on commercial flights to and from Florida staying constant. But, individual airports in Florida are seeing more of a fluctuation, with Tallahassee’s seeing an 8% increase in travelers and Punta Gorda’s registering a 35% drop in ridership.