White House remains committed to user fees

The White House again recently reiterated its commitment to imposing new user fees on general aviation in response to a call from 195 members of Congress to abandon the proposal as “the wrong approach” for GA to pay for its use of the aviation system.

According to a report at NBAA.org, Jeffrey D. Zients, White House acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), claimed in an April 10 letter that the White House’s proposed $100 per flight user fee – included in the Administration’s annual federal spending package, introduced earlier this year – would “generate an estimated $10 billion over 10 years, reducing the deficit and more equitably sharing the cost of aircraft traffic services.”

The OMB’s explanation came in response to a letter to the White House from Reps. Sam Graves (R-6-Mo) and John Barrow (D-12-Ga), co-chairs of the House General Aviation Caucus, and 193 other members of Congress.

“The White House’s response to Congress shows an intransigence on user fees that is not supported by reasoned policy and shows a lack of understanding of current aviation taxes,” said National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen. “In fact, studies conducted by government and industry have shown that, through the fuel tax, general aviation pays its fair share for the cost it imposes on the aviation system.

“Equally important, fuel taxes are an effective proxy for general aviation’s use of the system, because the more you fly, the more fuel you burn and the more taxes you pay. Fuel taxes as easy to pay – compliance is near total – and they are efficient for government to collect.”

Bolen noted that user fees would require the creation of a new collection bureaucracy, and that the fees would be administratively burdensome on operators.

The letter signed by 195 lawmakers also emphasized that general aviation is a vital industry, making important contributions to the U.S. economy.

“It’s unclear why the Administration would insist on imposing new fees on an industry that’s essential to citizens, companies and communities – especially in a still-challenging economy,” said Bolen. “General aviation contributes $150 billion in economic activity each year, adds to the nation’s balance of trade and generates and over 1 million jobs. The Administration should be championing this industry instead of singling it out for punitive policy proposals like this one.”

Comments

  1. Mark Weller says:

    If the Administration imposes this burdensome fee, I can foresee many GA pilots other than corporate pilots that have the backing of the company to pay the fees, refusing services and flying Visual and “Under the radar” so to speak. This will not only reduce the benefits of GA flight, but will reduce the safety of aviation in this country. Not only that, but many people not directly associated with GA will suffer because the pilots and aircraft owners will be providing less services such as angel flight and all the disaster relief efforts etc.

    • The administration’s budget proposal states that ”All piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada flights would be exempted” from the user fee.  I realize that there are a number of people trying to obfuscate this (see Ms. Wood’s report above for only the most recent example here at General Aviation News), but try to keep it in mind.

  2. Ms. Wood’s latest report once again pretends that the proposed user fee targets everyone in general aviation, even though piston aircraft would clearly be exempt.  I guess the idea is that if you can’t persuade people to adopt your view through honest reporting, you should try to scare them into it through fear mongering.  Tsk.

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