Washington, DC - The Alliance for Aviation Across America (AAAA) today announced that over 3,000 businesses, charitable organizations, aviation professionals, rural and agricultural organizations, and individuals in all 50 states have joined the Alliance for Aviation Across America to fight against the “user fees” tax contained in proposals for reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These members include the Montana Pilots’ Association, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota, the Arkansas Agricultural Aviation Association, the Arkansas Airport Operators Association, Flights For Life, Inc., the American Agriculture Movement, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, the National Association of Farmer Elected Committee Members, Women in Aviation, Kid's Wings, Northwoods Airlifeline and Angel Flight of Georgia.
“This huge outpouring of grassroots support will continue to send a strong message to lawmakers that small businesses and communities around the country are united against this corporate welfare package for the big airlines and user fees tax,” said Selena Shilad, Executive Director for the Alliance for Aviation Across America.
S.1300, which was recently introduced in the Senate, would overhaul the current funding system for FAA in favor of a new “user fee” tax on small businesses and towns across the country that rely on small planes. In addition, the Senate Commerce Committee recommended elimination of the $.043 per gallon fuel tax the big airlines currently pay, while general aviation would be faced with a doubling of the fuel tax – from $.21/gallon to $.49/gallon. As a result, the commercial airlines would net out with a $500 million per year tax giveaway, which would be directly shouldered by small planes.
In response to the huge outpouring of opposition to this tax from businesses and communities around the country, Senators Nelson and Sununu recently introduced an amendment to strip out a user fees tax during the Senate Commerce Committee’s consideration of S. 1300. This amendment was narrowly defeated in the Senate Commerce Committee by one vote – 12-11. In the coming weeks, the Senate Committee on Finance will consider its own bill on FAA funding.
“America’s cattlemen rely heavily upon small airports and small planes of all types for their livelihood,” said Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND) President, Pat Becker. “The user fee and tax increase proposal being considered by the Senate represent a direct threat to our families, our businesses, and our farms. We are urging the Congress to stand tall and reject user fees and unfair tax increases on general aviation in any form.”
The “user fees” tax currently contained in S.1300 relies on the misguided notion that a jumbo jetliner carrying over 300 passengers should be taxed at the same amount as a small aircraft carrying five people. This is even though the FAA itself has admitted that the commercial airlines drive the vast majority of the air traffic costs through the hub-and-spoke system they designed. In addition, this tax would require an entirely new federal collection bureaucracy within the Federal Aviation Administration just to administer this tax. Even those that would be exempted from this “user fees” tax fear the bureaucracy, hidden costs and uncertainty that such a system would create.
“This proposal is a lose-lose: small planes would face a huge new tax burden, as well as increased red tape and bureaucracy. These massive tax increases are not only a serious threat to the future of general aviation in this country, but to the businesses and commerce generated by non commercial aviation that is the lifeblood of the economy of smaller cities such as ours,” said City of New Braunfels, Texas Airport Director Andy Spinks.
While the FAA and the airlines claim that this proposal is necessary for modernization, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation have all testified before Congress that the current funding structure is adequate to cover the costs of modernization. The Alliance has pushed strongly for modernization of our air traffic control system through a progressive and fair system that does not target small towns and businesses and works within our current, efficient system of excise taxes. Such a system would create incentives for fuel efficiency and environmental sensibility, follow international norms, and protect small towns while avoiding the creation of a new tax collection bureaucracy inside the FAA.
Members of the Alliance for Aviation Across America also include: the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, whose membership is comprised of 412,000 members nationwide, the National Business Aviation Association, whose membership includes 8,000 members, the National Farmers Union, the League of Rural Voters, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, the National Grange, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council , the American Corn Growers Association, the Independent Cattlemen of Texas, the Texas Farm Bureau, Air Care Alliance, the National Agricultural Aviation Association, Helicopter Association International, and over 1200 small and medium-size businesses, charitable organizations, and groups and associations from across the nation.