U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
As you know, the aviation community has been eager to move forward with a long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration for several years. At long last there is a resolution in sight. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association welcomes this agreement and on behalf of our 360,000 members, many of whom reside in your state, we respectfully urge your support of the conference agreement on H.R.1000, the Aviation Investment and Reform Act (AIR-21).
The conference agreement "unlocks" the trust fund by guaranteeing annual revenues and interest will be fully spent. This is an important breakthrough that will provide for an immediate and substantial boost to overall aviation funding. We are also pleased the conferees were able to forge a compromise that restores the original concept of the trust fund by placing its highest priority on full funding of the Airport Improvement Program and Facilities and Equipment accounts. In addition, the agreement still provides flexibility to allow for important congressional oversight of FAA modernization programs.
The bill will have a beneficial impact on general aviation. For example, the state entitlement for airports, which primarily fund general aviation airports, will rise from the FY00 level of $341 million to $640 million under AIR-21. The amount provided under AIR-21 for modernization will allow the FAA to move forward deploying modern flight service station computers, equipment general aviation has been promised for almost 20 years!
We believe this final agreement represents a balanced compromise. The agreement does not take the aviation trust fund "off budget" nor does it "guarantee" a general fund contribution, but it does permit the use of general funds subject to the normal appropriations process. And because of the concessions made in order to reach this agreement, the aviation community must remain vigilant to prevent new user fees or parliamentary maneuvers that might undermine these new funding levels.
AOPA has embraced this compromise package as a step forward in providing needed resources and investment for aviation. We hope we can count on your support when it reaches the floor.
March 7, 2000