The lawn signs are popping up like mushrooms. The candidates are now campaigning full time. On Tuesday, November 7, you'll be casting your vote for congressman, senator (in some states), and state representatives.
Who to vote for? Here are some questions you should ask the candidates to find out their positions on critical general aviation issues. (The November issue of AOPA Pilot magazine includes a special election section profiling 24 national races we think are particularly important to GA.)
The most important GA issue on the national level is FAA funding and user fees. So you should know where your senator and representative stand.
When you speak or write to the candidate running for a House or Senate seat, remind them that the current tax system has provided a stable and reliable revenue stream for the FAA for nearly 40 years. And that the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget predict that the current system will provide sufficient revenue for expanding and modernizing the air traffic control system to meet future growth.
Then ask, "Do you oppose replacing the current system of aviation taxes with a user-fee funded system?"
Because all citizens benefit from a safe and efficient air transportation system, Congress has traditionally used some general fund dollars in addition to money from the aviation trust fund for the FAA's budget.
Ask, "Do you support continuing to fund approximately 25 percent of the FAA's budget with general fund dollars?"
Finally, the FAA and the airlines are proposing that control of the air traffic system, including all decisions about fees and funding, be put in the hands of a board of directors controlled by the airlines. Congress would be cut out of the loop, which means individual citizens would no longer have a way to have their aviation concerns heard.
Ask, "Do you oppose eliminating congressional oversight of the FAA?"
The answers to all three questions should be "yes."
On the state and local level, the most important issue is protecting airports. And the best way to preserve GA airports is to prevent incompatible development around the airport. Responsible planning and zoning can do that.
So ask the candidates, "Do you support comprehensive aviation planning and zoning regulations to protect airports?"
And make sure the candidate understands that you care - and that you vote.
October 11, 2006