The Wall Street Journal reports today, and AOPA has confirmed, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has decided to restore the FAA budget request for next year to the levels required under the AIR-21 agreement passed last year to unlock the aviation trust fund. The decision comes 11 days after AOPA first reported that OMB was proposing to renege on the AIR-21 funding levels. On February 2, AOPA President Phil Boyer wrote to President Bush, urging him to honor the agreement. Boyer's letter touched off furious industry lobbying on behalf of the FAA, and Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta also personally lobbied OMB in support of the AIR-21 funding levels.
Other agencies may not be as lucky as the FAA. According to the Journal, President Bush will propose that total spending on "discretionary government programs—those outside Social Security and Medicare" would rise 4 percent for the next fiscal year. In the past three years, spending was at a 6 percent pace. Among the departments whose budgets are most likely to be slowed or cut are the departments of Energy, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development. Overall, discretionary spending would be limited to about $660 billion next fiscal year, a 3.6-percent increase from the 2001 level and almost $100 billion above the amount mandated in the 1997 balanced budget agreement.
President Bush is expected to submit a budget outline to Congress on Feb. 28.