Washington, DC, February 1, 2010 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today welcomed the Obama Administration's fiscal year 2011 (FY2011) federal budget proposal, which does not include new user fees for general aviation.
"When it comes to the long-standing battle over user fees, it appears that today, we have reached an important and welcome milestone," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "The fact that user fees are not part of the President's 2011 budget proposal shows the tremendous progress we have made over the past year."
Bolen noted that the Obama Administration's previous budget proposal, which was introduced last February, contained an important provision that read, "Starting in 2011, the Budget proposes to replace some aviation excise taxes with direct user charges." The President's new budget proposal does not contain similar language.
"The proposal introduced by the White House today stands in clear contrast to language we saw last year," Bolen continued. "Our community, which has been so energized and mobilized by the user fee threat, should be heartened by this news.
"Like the Administration, the general aviation community supports full funding for the FAA and modernization of the nation's aviation system," Bolen said. "But our industry has been united in opposing calls for user fees, which require a large bureaucracy to manage, and would impose a hidden administrative burden on the many small and mid-size businesses that rely on an airplane to succeed.
"Instead adopting foreign-style user fees, NBAA and its Members have been very aggressive in promoting the wisdom of building upon the stable, reliable and efficient fuel tax mechanism for general aviation to help fund aviation system modernization," Bolen said. He noted that with fuel taxes, users pay the tax at the pump, the government easily collects the revenue, and the system serves as an effective proxy for the cost airplanes impose on the system. "On top of all that, the fuel tax is environmentally friendly, because it encourages the development of cleaner, quieter and more efficient engines," Bolen added.
"We commend the Administration for its focus on aviation modernization, and we look forward to working with officials to expedite the transformation to the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System," Bolen said.
Despite the removal of user fees from the Administration's FY2011 budget, Bolen said that ongoing vigilance and grassroots mobilization by NBAA's Members would be needed to ensure that Washington policymakers continue to understand the industry's support for helping to fund aviation modernization through fuel taxes.
"Whether or not this is an indication of a permanent policy shift on user fees, or a one-time development remains to be determined," Bolen said. "What we do know for certain is that our industry must continue to make its voice heard on this and other issues."