July 20, 2011
A rally took place in east Wichita Wednesday to support aviation in Kansas after what some are calling an attack against the industry by the President. The rally aimed to support tax breaks for corporate jet owners after President Obama called to eliminate those breaks in a press conference.
"You'll still be able to ride on your corporate jet, you'll just have to pay a little more," said President Obama last month.
That was just one statement to launch a battle over tax breaks, which help businesses buy private jets. But speakers at Wednesday's rally at the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) say corporations aren't the ones gaining the greatest benefit from those incentives.
"We're not just talking about businesses and what's going on here. We're talking about the lives of real families," said Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer.
Brewer was referring to the real families, and real people, who build and maintain planes. NCAT student Craig Armstrong is one of those people. He's earning more advanced training after being in the industry for 15 years.
"Airplanes have been my life, I can't see myself doing anything but this and it's taught me well," said Armstrong.
So keeping workers like Armstrong employed is the goal behind Wednesday's rally. Organizers say they're calling for the president to support aviation as he looks for ways to save money.
"He spent too much money, and now he's trying to attack the hard working folks in south central Kansas," said Congressman Mike Pompeo.
"I think it would be hard for the republicans to stand there and say that tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we're not willing to come to the table and get a deal done," said President Obama at his June press conference.
But state leaders say the tax breaks aren't about politics, they're about jobs.
"Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg. You've got a million jobs here with this," said Gov. Sam Brownback.
And each one of those jobs is important, according to someone who has dedicated his career to aviation.
"There's a lot of pride and shared responsibilities that go on to make sure that every airplane that leaves the runway is safe to fly," said Armstrong.
Governor Brownback says he hopes that by beginning to spread the message in Wichita, it will reach leaders in Washington and spur them to protect aviation.