Oppose Onerous Aviation User Fees

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Michigan Group Opposes Proposed GA User Fees

January 4, 2013

The Michigan Aeronautics Commission recently sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegation, including General Aviation Caucus members Candice Miller (R-10-MI) and Tim Walberg (R-7-MI), opposing the proposed $100-per-flight user fee as a fund-raising mechanism.

President Obama has proposed such a fee in annual planning documents for funding federal agencies, and also as a means for reducing the nation’s deficit. Congress has repeatedly declined to include user fees in aviation legislation, including an reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration passed into law last year.

“We think that type of user fee tax is a job killer,” said Michigan Business Aviation Association (MBAA) chairman and Michigan Aeronautics Commission member Roger Salo, who added that MBAA has been pursuing the user-fee issue since it came up at a recent meeting. “We thought there was some urgency to communicate that to our state representatives. We were pleased that [the commission] supported it.

“I think we can no longer sit back and react to things,” Salo said of MBAA’s ongoing advocacy efforts. “We have to educate our legislators, because they constantly turn over. I view these things as job issues. Legislators are always interested in preserving jobs.”

The Dec. 14 letter emphasized strong ties between local job growth and the continued prosperity of the state’s general aviation industry, including the use of airplanes for business. After noting the industry’s contribution to the American economy at large – 1.2 million jobs and $150 billion – the group pointed out that “general aviation in Michigan supports economic development opportunities and jobs.”

Review the letter. (PDF, 179 KB)

Implementing a $100-per-flight user fee would unnecessarily complicate a tax system that’s already working and burden industry in Michigan, the letter argued. “A new user fee would require creating a costly new federal billing and collection bureaucracy to administer,” the letter stated. “It also would impose a significant administrative burden on individuals and small businesses that suddenly would have to process invoices, dispute erroneous bills, and establish new recordkeeping systems.”

The letter also noted that the fuel tax, which is currently how general aviation pays for its use of the aviation system is “the easiest and most efficient way to fund the Federal Aviation Administration and its programs that benefit all users of the system.”

“The MBAA has been active in supporting business aviation across Michigan, and has been very successful,” said Bob Quinn, NBAA’s Central regional representative. “The MBAA group is very impressive. This letter is indicative of their proactive work in advocating for aviation issues within Michigan and with their federal government legislators.”