U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today led a bipartisan effort with 22 of his colleagues to voice strong opposition to the Obama Administration's efforts to impose user fees on general aviation aircraft. The Senators made clear to President Obama their opposition to including the user fee proposal in any plan put forward by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
"With 14 million Americans looking for work, our government's first priority should be to create an environment in which businesses can grow and hire additional workers. While we agree that the deficit must be reduced, increasing taxes on corporate jets and other general aviation aircraft will only further stifle economic recovery," the bipartisan group of Senators wrote. "General aviation already contributes to the federal government through an effective system of fuel taxes. We agree with the general aviation community that fuel taxes represent the best way for that industry to contribute revenues to the federal government and support efforts to enhance the air transportation system."
The Obama Administration recently proposed charging a $100-per-flight fee to corporate jets and other turbine-powered airplanes that utilize United States air traffic services, in order to address our nation's deficit. But the Senators believe this fee would only harm an important American industry and further delay our country's economic recovery. The fee would also be particularly burdensome to community airports that rely on general aviation as a lifeline to larger towns and urban areas.
"We'd like to thank Senator Moran and his colleagues from both political parties for their leadership in opposition to user fees," said General Aviation Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pete Bunce. "If implemented, user fees will negatively impact safety and increase the federal bureaucracy at a time when we should be finding efficiencies. User fees will also have serious negative ramifications for general aviation manufacturers and our workers, including our vast supplier base located in communities of all sizes."
"Our 400,000 members are grateful for the commitment to general aviation signaled by the members of the U.S. Senate signing this letter of opposition to aviation user fees," said Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Craig Fuller. "We need only look to countries that have pursued such an approach to see the economic and job disruption caused by user fees. We do not need nor can we afford an aviation user fee on flight operations."
"We applaud Senator Moran and his colleagues for this letter opposing President Obama's plan to charge per-flight user fees for general aviation," said National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen. "Among other serious flaws, user fees would pose an onerous, hidden administrative cost for the thousands of small and mid-size businesses that rely on an aircraft to succeed. We are committed to working with Senator Moran and others in the Senate and House to defeat this bad policy idea."
The general aviation industry is a vital component of the American economy, employing 1.2 million workers and generating $150 billion in economic activity each year. The aviation industry also contributes significantly to American exports. Just last year, general aviation manufacturers began exporting more than 50 percent of all aircraft produced.
In addition to Sen. Moran, the letter is signed by U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), John Thune (R-S.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and John McCain (R-Ariz.)
Sen. Moran serves on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies. He is also a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus.
Dear Mr. President:
We write to convey continued concern for the general aviation industry and voice our opposition to your Administration's recent proposal to impose use fees on general aviation aircraft in the name of deficit reduction. With 14 million Americans looking for work, our government's first priority should be to create an environment in which businesses can grow and hire additional workers. While we agree with you that the deficit must be reduced, increasing taxes on corporate jets and other general aviation aircraft will only further stifle economic recovery.
Over the past five years, both chambers in Congress have considered new aviation user fees, even those proposed by your predecessor, and rejected them overwhelmingly. The FAA bill that has been extended twice this year has intentionally not included those provisions to raise taxes on general aviation. General aviation already contributes to the federal government through an effective system of fuel taxes. We agree with the general aviation community that fuel taxes represent the best way for that industry to contribute revenues to the federal government and support efforts to enhance the air transportation system.
We cannot impress upon you enough how important the general aviation industry is to American vitality. The industry employs 1.2 million workers and generates $150 billion in economic activity. In many of our states, general aviation generates economic development in U.S. communities with little or no commercial airline services. As you know, the general aviation industry encompasses more than corporate jet manufacturing. Industry leaders will tell you that general aviation aircraft contribute to missions on a daily basis for emergency medical transport, aerial firefighting, law enforcement, search and rescue, disaster relief, national security, and counterterrorism. While we recognize that air ambulance, military, and other public service aircraft will not be subjected to the $100-per-flight fee, those that manufacture the aircraft critical to these operations will be affected by such an increase.
Furthermore, the United States cannot afford to shut down an industry, like general aviation, that contributes significantly to the nation's exports. In 2010, U.S. general aviation manufacturers increased their percentage of exports to 51.6% of all aircraft produced. This trend in exports substantiates your goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years.
Finally, the proposal to add user fees to general aviation aircraft would mean the creation of a new federal collection bureaucracy. This would require funding to support such a collection agency, which seems counterproductive to deficit reduction. The hiring of billing agents, auditors, and collection officials will be required to facilitate this proposal. In contrast, the current fuel tax allows the government to be prepaid for its services, and the operators are not saddled with new and onerous administrative burdens. For these reasons, the fuel tax is far preferable to user fees. The current funding mechanism for general aviation provides cost-savings in contrast to the collection of user fees through a new federal collection bureaucracy.
The costs associated with user fees far outweigh any benefit to deficit reduction. We oppose their inclusion in any plan put forward by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.