GA Leaders Rally for NextGen, and How They Propose to Fund It

It's not often you hear lobbying groups speak up in favor of tax increases for their constituents. But NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen told the Senate aviation subcommittee that business aviation would shoulder an increase in fuel taxes to pay its share of the cost of the NextGen air-traffic-control modernization program. He told lawmakers, "We strongly support your work to improve our nation's aviation system, which will also significantly contribute to economic growth and job creation. In these challenging economic times, the importance of a robust transportation system cannot be overemphasized." Similarly, AOPA President Craig Fuller told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that the pilots association favored retaining the fuel tax model for GA users to fulfill their contribution to funding aviation infrastructure. AOPA supports the model even if taxes must be increased. Current plans to initiate a user-fee structure have met with staunch resistance throughout general aviation circles. Fuller also made the case for greater support from the general tax fund, testifying that 75 percent of waterway funding comes from the general fund, and 40 percent of Amtrak's operating budget is covered by taxpayers. That contrasts with an average of 22 percent for aviation over time-25 percent for the current period. Fuller told the committee it should "anticipate a need for a larger general fund contribution to the FAA's budget, probably in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 percent in 2009-still well within historical norms."

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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