The Obama budget appears to be resurrecting the ghost of President Bush’s aviation user fees. This spectre which appeared dead in ’08 lives again in a footnote buried in the new 2010 budget calling for about $7 billion of taxes to be replaced by “direct user charges”.
This proposal may put at odds the business aviation and airline groups who have been working together to bring about a modernization of air traffic control and airport development.
This sort of user pays system has been proposed many times over the years without success. But, in the current political climate user fees may be easier to increase than taxes.
On February 26, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) issued the following statement. “Although we commend the Obama Administration for its commitment to modernizing the nation’s aviation system and expanding capacity, we are very troubled by the budget outline issued by the White House today, because it appears to leave the door open to consideration of user fees for funding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). We continue to believe that operational user fees have no place in a funding plan for the FAA, and we will remain unified with the rest of the general aviation community in opposing them in favor of building on the proven, efficient fuel tax for general aviation to help support modernization. We remain committed to modernization, as demonstrated by the industry’s commitment last year, and we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress on effective proposals to expedite modernization.
Will President Obama prove to be a friend to general avaition? Only time will tell. As AOPA President Craig Fuller said, “It is often said the devil is in the details, but even with only a few details, there is much about which we are concerned.”