You are not likely to have seen this in the weekend newspapers, but we recently confirmed that in the midst of the budget negotiations to avert the debt ceiling crisis, Administration officials placed on the table a private aircraft user fee proposal for discussion with Congressional leaders. Details are very sketchy and most reports suggest that no decisions have been made. However, on the heels of the hot rhetoric several days ago about the use of private aircraft and tax loopholes (that used to be job stimulus initiatives) there is much to worry about in this development.
The general aviation community has supported for years the use of added charges on our fuel purchases as a far superior way to raise additional revenue to help pay for modernizing our air traffic control system than user fees. These charges are made at the pump without the need for a new federal bureaucracy to administer a user fee program that, reportedly, would be imposed on flight operations of GA aircraft.
Now, I know some in Congress do not like the fuel charge concept and call it a “tax.” But, honestly, a fee is no better term if it comes with big bureaucracy that does not go to improving air safety. What’s the point? Let’s decide on what works not what sounds good.
And, today, the FAA Reauthorization Bill passed by the U.S. Senate contains an increase in the aviation fuel charges that we have supported and that would go right to the FAA. If you need additional revenue, use this language not a user fee approach denounced by the key committees in Congress and the many members who focus on aviation policy.
Aviation User Fees and the big bureaucracy they bring need to COME OFF THE TABLE!
We will be arguing this point forcefully as Congress returns to Washington this coming week telling our supporters that their opposition to user fees before was a good thing and it’s even more important now! And, when needed, we will alert our hundreds of thousands of members to the return of a very bad idea!