HAI: $100 Per Flight GA User Fee in Obama Budget Request “Ill-Advised”

HAI: $100 Per Flight GA User Fee in Obama Budget Request “Ill-Advised”

5-Mar-2014 Source: HAI

President Obama has released his $3.901 trillion 2015 budget request, calling for a $100 per flight general aviation user fee, seeking $651 billion in new revenue from the wealthy, cutting the size and pay of the military, and expanding or creating a series of social programs the president has long touted.

Matt Zuccaro, president of the Helicopter Association International (HAI), pledged to work with Congress on behalf of the helicopter industry to prevent the imposition of these “ill-advised fees that aim to hold general aviation businesses and the greater GA community hostage to the ideals of an administration that is clearly at odds with Congress on this issue. Members of Congress from both parties who are respected for their knowledge of aviation issues have joined the entire general aviation (GA) community to repeatedly tell this White House that they reject the GA user fee concept and endorse the fuel tax as the most appropriate means for GA to contribute to the air traffic control system”.

The administration’s budget proposal is intended to outline the president’s priorities, and as such is often viewed as a political guideline for the president’s party, and is often ignored by congressional leadership in both parties, who often have priorities of their own.

Of the Department of Transportation’s large subagencies, the FAA is the only one not slated for an increase. The budget requests $16.5 billion for the FAA, a mostly status-quo budget. The budget summary documents note that it would allocate roughly $1 billion to NextGen programs. Commercial aviation would be subject to a $100 per flight fee “to more equitably distribute the cost of air traffic services across the aviation user community,” beginning after September 30, 2014.

The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) would be trimmed from the $3.4 billion enacted last year to about $2.9 billion. Large hub airports would be cut out of the AIP program, in exchange for raising the Passenger Facilities Charge cap that they can levy as part of the cost of an airplane ticket. Right now the cap is $4.50 per flight segment — the budget proposes to raise it to $8

“The administration proposes to focus federal grants to support smaller commercial and general aviation airports that do not have access to additional revenue or other outside sources of capital. The budget also proposes to allow all commercial service airports to increase the non-Federal Passenger Facility Charge, thereby giving airports greater flexibility to generate their own revenue,” the budget reads.

The plan aims to raise $276 billion over a decade through changes to the international tax system, creating a new category for international digital transactions and measures to prevent companies from avoiding sales taxes through manufacturing agreements abroad. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative would get a 5 percent increase in fudning, to $57 million, as it pursues a full slate of potential trade agreements, including proposed pacts with 11 Asia-Pacific countries and the European Union.

Obama recommends hiring an additional 2,000 Customs and Border Protection officers to boost the work force to a historic high of 25,775, which the administration says will help speed the flow of goods and people across borders and improve seizures of illegal items such as drugs, guns, and counterfeit goods.

The budget fully funds Obamacare, adding $14.6 billion over the next 10 years to expand the ranks of primary care providers to help care for the newly insured. Some of the highlights from the budget request include: slapping big banks with $56 billion in “financial crisis responsibility fees” and capping the amount “wealthy millionaires” can deduct in charitable donations, ending homelessness while stressing the importance of lost cause cases like gun control and immigration reform. Fully half of Obama’s new $56 billion suite of programs calls the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative would be funded by cutting tax breaks on retirement accounts for the wealthy — they would lose their tax break on annual income greater than $200,000.

The White House budget request comes as congressional Democrats and Republicans are operating under a two-year bipartisan spending agreement reached in December by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the leaders of the Senate and House Budget Committees, respectively.

The House and Senate are taking different approaches on whether to do their own detailed budget plans for the fiscal year that begins October 1. Last week, Speaker Boehner said House Republicans under Budget Committee Chairman Ryan would write a balanced-budget plan of their own, and that the package would be brought to the floor for a vote. A day later, Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Murray announced the Senate would not be doing its own version.

At issue is whether either chamber needs to do a budget at all, given that the two-year budget plan deal forged by Murray and Ryan and passed in December 2013 already sets spending levels, with topline spending capped in fiscal 2015 at $1.014 trillion.

HAI encourages all members of the helicopter community to do their part by telling Washington that a $100 per flight user fee on GA is a non-starter and a hindrance to the economic well-being of general aviation — paying at the pump is the most efficient and fairest method for GA to support the air traffic control system. Voice your opinion with lawmakers in Washington by utilizing www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.

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