Witt: California Governor’s Office to Send Advance Team to Mojave

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Mojave Air and Space Port General Manager Stu Witt is making some progress in his campaign to get Sacramento to provide more support for his facility and the aerospace industry across California.

Witt told the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors on Tuesday that he recently got a call from the office of Gov. Jerry Brown, which will be sending an advance team from the state’s Office of Economic Development for a one-day visit to the desert spaceport. The call came after a letter of support from Larry Adams and Jay Sprague, president and vice president, respectively, of the California City Development Corporation.

Although the Mojave spaceport is thriving as an R&D center, it is doing so in spite of a terrible business climate caused by high taxes and burdensome regulations, Witt believes. The state is under serious threat of losing its innovative aerospace companies to other states that are offering financial incentives and looser regulations. The state earlier lost its aircraft industry in a similar manner.

In February, Witt launched a campaign to get the state to provide incentives similar to those being offered by Florida, New Mexico and Virginia. Specifically, Witt is looking for “legislation to limit liability as this new industry develops, ‘Zero G  Zero Tax’ zones to provide tax incentives for investing in companies involved in space-related activities, tax credits for aerospace job creation, cash incentives, taxpayer-financed infrastructure, and loans to attract and retain this industry.”

Legislation that will limit the liability of spacecraft operators for spaceflight participants’ injuries except in cases of gross negligence or intentional harm is making its way through the California Legislature. The measure, introduced by Assemblyman Steve Knight, would put the Golden State on par with New Mexico, Virginia and Florida, which have passed similar legislation.

Witt is hoping for support from Brown, who was labeled as “Governor Moonbeam” during an earlier stint running California for his visionary ideas about how to use space to improve the lives of citizens. His ideas including using communications satellites to allow people to communicate via hand-held devices.