It's time to take user fees and ridiculous tax increases off the table, AOPA President Phil Boyer told a gathering of state aviation officials.
"We need to have a meaningful dialogue on the future of our air transportation system, and part of that discussion should be a review of the FAA funding system," Boyer said at a National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) conference in Washington, D.C., on March 19.
"It may be time to revise the status quo, but there is nothing that supports the kind of radical changes advanced by the Bush administration and the airlines," Boyer said. "As long as user fees and more than tripling GA taxes are in the equation, we will be at loggerheads."
Boyer intends to bring that same message before Congress on March 21 when he testifies before the House Transportation and Infrastructure aviation subcommittee.
Boyer said at the NASAO conference that the administration's FAA funding bill would also have a negative effect on the majority of airports in each of the states.
The legislation - introduced in Congress on February 14 - would cut the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) by nearly one third - a potential $1 billion loss in funding for airports.
The bill would reduce federal grant amounts from 95 to 90 percent of project costs, making it harder for cash-strapped states and localities to come up with matching funds to get airport improvement projects started.
And the administration wants to remove smaller GA airports from the entitlement program, meaning that the airports that need the money the most would no longer be guaranteed any federal money.
"As it stands, the proposed FAA funding bill would ultimately decimate the general aviation industry that serves the 76 percent of the nation that the airlines ignore," said Boyer.
"But by working together, we can achieve a new FAA funding bill that will meet the needs of all citizens, not just feather the nests of the airlines."
March 20, 2007