A bill introduced this week in a Kansas House committee would provide tax credits to recent graduates of aerospace and aviation educational programs, and their employers.
House Bill 2036 would provide a credit of up to $15,000 annually for five years to a graduate of an aviation technical or college program, provided they graduated from a Kansas-based technical school or college and go to work for a Kansas aviation firm. For graduates of aviation programs outside Kansas who go to work inside the state, an annual credit of up to $7,500 could be awarded.
Their employers, too, would be eligible for the tax credit for five years from the date of initial employment, the amount of which would be 10 percent of the employee’s paid compensation, provided they graduated from a state-based program. The employer credit for graduates of aviation programs outside Kansas would be 5 percent of annual paid compensation, according to the bill.
The bill is in the House Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development, where it had a hearing Wednesday.
Jason Watkins, lobbyist for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, testified at the hearing for the chamber’s support of the bill. He said Thursday that the tax credits serve as an incentive to attract more aviation workers and companies.
Citing statistics from Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research, Watkins said that states like Oklahoma and North Carolina saw year-over-year aerospace worker gains in 2015 of 91 percent and 120 percent, respectively, while Kansas saw a 17 percent decrease.
“We’ve dominated aerospace for so long, it’s very troubling to see our aerospace jobs declining,” Watkins said. “If you’re not doing stuff like this, you’re going to wake up one day and none of those jobs are going to be here.”
He said Textron Aviation also submitted written testimony in support of the bill.
The committee is expected to vote on the bill on Monday.