Aviation User Fees Rear Ugly Head Again
The 2010 budget proposal for the FAA released earlier this month by the White House makes it obvious that President Obama wants a fundamental change in funding in FY 2011 by dramatically reducing General Fund support for aviation in America. The Administration proposal for 2011 envisions $9.6 billion coming from user fees–up more than $2 billion from the initial estimate earlier this year. That figure rises to $11 billion by 2014. And although the Air Transport Association, which represents the airlines, maintains that the taxes and fees paid by turbine-powered general aviation aircraft have not kept pace with the dramatic growth of that segment since 1970, it is no longer pushing for user fees on GA. Instead, the association is advocating a greater contribution from the General Fund to help pay the costs of running the FAA and modernizing the ATC system. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) told colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee that the programs in the draft House FAA reauthorization bill (H.R.915) can be funded by existing aviation excise taxes, coupled with a “reasonable” General Fund contribution that is consistent with what the industry has requested and a “relatively small” increase in revenue derived from general aviation fuel taxes.