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NBAA Blasts Latest User Fee Push in President's Budget Proposal
Association Looks to Members, Congress to Help Stop the Threat
Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, email@example.com
Washington, DC, February 13, 2012 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today denounced the latest attempt from the White House to impose a per-flight user fee on general aviation, and said industry would need to engage Congress to stop the renewed threat.
Per-flight user fees are included in President Obama's fiscal year 2013 federal spending proposal, released today, which sets budgets for government agencies. Specifically, page 30 of the president's budget overview states: "...the Administration proposes to create a $100 per flight fee, payable to the Federal Aviation Administration, by aviation operators who fly in controlled airspace."
Although the general aviation community has been unified in opposing user fees for decades, the president has continually supported the fees, calling for them first in 2009 as part of his annual budget outline. Last year, he renewed his call for user fees as part of his proposal for addressing the nation's deficit. More recently, the White House wrote to individuals who had signed a petition asking the president to reconsider his support for user fees. The White House message, titled "Why We Need User Fees," explicitly mentioned business aircraft in making its case for the new fees.
Bolen noted that in none of these developments did the White House highlight the fact that the general aviation community pays for its use of the aviation system through the proven, efficient fuel tax. "Ideally, the president would work with general aviation to acknowledge not only this contribution, but also the industry's value in generating jobs, helping companies compete and succeed, and providing a lifeline to communities across the country," Bolen said. "Instead, he's repeatedly proposed anti-general aviation initiatives like this one."
Along with the concern raised by the president's user fee proposal, Bolen said the White House budget sends a mixed message on two other key issues: funding for a Next Generation ("NextGen") air traffic system, and depreciation schedules on business aircraft.
The budget would increase NextGen investment by $99 million over the previous fiscal year; however, the document calls for cuts to airport improvement grants by $926 million. "While we commend the president's acknowledgement of the need to expedite modernization with an increased NextGen investment, we also know that a continued investment in airport upgrades is an investment in the future of the nation's air traffic system," Bolen said. "Airports are fundamental to NextGen, and you can't promote one without supporting the other."
A similar mixed signal involves the budget's reference to depreciation schedules. In its budget overview, the White House declares that "continuing to allow businesses to write-off the full amount of new investments" will help "jumpstart job creation" – but the same budget goes on to call for extending the depreciation on the purchase of business aircraft from the traditional five-year timeframe to seven years. "Clearly the president believes shrinking depreciation schedules creates jobs, and we agree with him on that," Bolen said. "Instead of proposing a lengthening of the depreciation schedule, we should focus on shrinking them now and in the future."
Bolen added that, as with previous punitive proposals from the White House, those in the Administration's budget should be taken seriously – but that as in the past, the key to stopping proposals the industry opposes is for people to mobilize and call upon Congress to take action.
"Proposals from the White House are serious business – particularly if, like the user fee plan and the proposal to change aircraft depreciation in the president’s annual budget – they are designed to raise revenue," Bolen said. "But White House proposals cannot become law unless they are approved by Congress. Over the past several years, the general aviation community has worked with Congress to successfully beat back a number of bad ideas proposed by the White House – we can do it again by getting everyone active and engaged with their elected officials."
For example, Bolen said, NBAA Members can make their voices heard with their representatives in Congress through NBAA's online Contact Congress resource, which has a letter that can be sent to lawmakers opposing user fees.
"NBAA will continue to advocate for the industry's priorities as Congress considers the president's latest budget proposal, and our efforts will be most effective if the people in business aviation echo our message with their elected representatives," Bolen said. "I encourage everyone in general aviation to contact their elected officials today."
Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.
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