January 7, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Reps. Tom Petri ((R-Wis.) and Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), senior members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee both known for strong statements against general aviation user fees, are again championing a no-new-user-fee letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reject any user fee proposals in his Fiscal Year 2012 budget.
“We want to reiterate that a user fee proposal would be a step backward,” said Costello in a statement released Jan. 7. “This is an issue that we have had bipartisan agreement on in recent years and there is no reason to reconsider it. I will not support a budget or an FAA Reauthorization bill that includes user fees.”
The two lawmakers waged a similar campaign in 2009 that received strong bipartisan backing, with 118 House members, more than a quarter of the full House, signing on to a letter urging against user fees. Petri and Costello argued then that reopening the debate on user fees for the FY 2011 budget would take Congress’s attention away from the addressing Next Generation air transportation system modernization (NextGen). No user fee proposal was included in that year’s budget.
“The message from the House of Representatives to the White House in this truly bipartisan letter is unmistakable, and we appreciate the members’ staking out their position so unequivocally,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller at the time of the 2009 effort.
In announcing their new letter, Costello reiterated support for “maintaining the current mechanism of using fuel taxes to support the Aviation Trust Fund.”
“Once again, Congressmen Petri and Costello have taken the lead against imposing user fees on general aviation,” said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton. “The last bipartisan letter spoke volumes and we applaud the Congressmen for circulating a letter in the new Congress, and we will urge other members to sign the letter to the president opposing user fees.”
FAA Financial and Regulatory,
Sometimes in politics, the good news is that bad news won’t happen. Thanks to AOPA, antique aircraft collectors and aviation employers in Louisiana dodged legislative bullets that would have raised the costs of aircraft ownership or of doing business.
The Illinois legislature May 30 approved Senate Bill 2326, a measure that protects aircraft currently operating under a rolling stock exemption.
With the 149 federal contract control towers that faced sequestration-induced shutdowns spared by Congress until Sept. 30, AOPA and other aviation organizations are working to secure the program’s funding in Fiscal Year 2014.