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Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 8:00am

Jet Makers Defend Tax Breaks

General aviation industry officials say, they're getting a bad rap in the current budget negotiations from politicians denouncing a tax break for corporate jet owners.

The industry has a powerful lobby in Savannah.

General aviation is any aircraft that's not for the military or airlines.

Most of Georgia's 7,000 general aviation jobs are at the Savannah jet-maker Gulfstream Aerospace.

Across Georgia, industry officials say, general aviation provides more than $400 million in payroll.

That's why Katie Pribyl of the industry's Washington-based manufacturing association says, the tax break helps the economy.

"This really for us boils down to jobs and our industry and this country just can't stand to lose one more job," Pribyl says. "The last time business jets received a tongue-lashing from the President, we saw customers cancel orders and our industry experienced 20,000 layoffs here in the US."

Pribyl says, she doesn't know how much companies save by having the tax break or how much it accounts for aircraft purchases.

Critics like President Obama and some Republicans doubt it has much effect on jobs, characterizing it as a loophole for fat cats.

A Gulfstream official referred questions about the tax break to Pribyl at the General Aviation Manufacturer's Association.