Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), House
aviation subcommittee chairman
Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa),
aviation subcommittee member
Some 150 Iowa pilots and aviation professionals made it quite clear; they don't like aviation user fees, they don't think a significant general aviation tax increase is necessary, and they definitely don't want the airlines to get an unwarranted tax break.
Those were some of the opinions expressed at a congressional town hall meeting on June 4 at the Ankeny Regional Airport (IKV) just north of Des Moines. And it was a message that Rep. Leonard L. Boswell (D-Iowa), sponsor of the meeting, and his invited congressional colleagues - Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, and subcommittee member Rep. Bruce L. Braley (D-Iowa) - concurred with.
Boswell spoke of the importance of general aviation in attracting economic development to Iowa, pointing specifically to the new Iowa Speedway that the city of Newton had been able to attract because of Newton Municipal Airport (TNU).
Boswell, an AOPA member, flew Rep. Costello to the meeting in his Piper Comanche.
Costello, speaking about the FAA funding bills currently in Congress, said that he, as aviation subcommittee chairman, was "adamantly opposed" to the FAA's proposed bill, which would impose user fees and increase avgas taxes by some 50 cents per gallon.
And he said he didn't much like the Senate bill either, which would give the airlines a huge tax break and charge a user fee to turbine-powered aircraft.
Costello said that as far as he was concerned, user fees were dead, GA airports should continue to be funded at existing levels, and that the general fund should pay for about 25 percent of the FAA's budget.
He anticipated that the House version of an FAA funding bill would be out in about two weeks. He predicted that it would move quickly through the various committees because all of the important issues will have been agreed upon.
Costello introduced AOPA President Phil Boyer, saying that whenever there was an important aviation issue, he made it a point to talk to Boyer.
And Boyer said that he frequently talked to the chairman of the aviation subcommittee, finding him a valuable sounding board.
"We may not always agree on everything, but the open and honest dialogue that we have with Chairman Costello truly serves the best interests of aviation and the nation," said Boyer.
And thanks to Mike Abrams, Roger Bocox, and Dave Kalwishky of EAA Chapter 135, who provided the "No User Fee" buttons and large cookies also emblazoned with "No User Fees" as well as "No Increased Fuel Taxes."
June 5, 2007