October 6, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
A $100 fee for commercial and general aviation flights would “stifle” the industry, and is the wrong way to attack the federal deficit, said the bipartisan leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s subcommittee on aviation.
Aviation already faces high fuel costs and a slow economy, making the imposition of a new fee “devastating,” said subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and ranking Democratic member Jerry Costello (D-Ill.).
The House has rejected user fees on general aviation in the past, “and we should do so again this time,” they said in an Oct. 6 letter to the House and Senate leaders and the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, signed by 119 Members. The Obama administration proposed the fee in a draft proposal made public in September.
“Imposing such a fee would stifle this industry, as has been the case in other countries where user fees have been put in place. General aviation is an important contributor to our economy, with 1.3 million jobs and $150 billion in economic activity each year,” they wrote.
“The strong, bi-partisan support that this letter has generated sends a powerful message to the Administration and to the members of the Super Committee that there is simply no appetite in Congress for user fees,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs.
The joint deficit reduction panel, composed of six Republicans and six Democrats, was created under the Budget Control Act of 2011. Each party is represented on the panel by three House members and three senators. They must issue a recommendation on how to cut the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The recommendation must then receive an up-or-down vote in Congress before Dec. 23.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
Only 10 percent of the aircraft excise taxes that Washington aircraft owners pay go to the Washington State Division of Aeronautics, while the other 90 percent go into the general fund. AOPA is advocating for legislation that would direct 100 percent of the tax to aviation use.
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