Tag Archives: user fees

White house budget framework has $800m for NextGen, hints at user fees

from Aviation Week:

The [Obama administration] budget framework mentions $800 million for the NextGen air traffic modernization effort, although it did not detail which programs this would cover or how much of an increase it represents.

The administration also dropped something of a bombshell in a footnote, saying the budget “proposes repealing some aviation excise taxes and replacing [them] with direct user charges.” While no other details were offered, this could revive the user-fee debate that arose in the last administration.

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) notes that the budget “appears to propose some type of aviation user fee.” Although he will “reserve judgment” until more details emerge, he noted that user fees have been “proposed several times in the past by…various administrations, and have not been adopted by Congress.” Oberstar believes “the current system of aviation excise taxes has proven to be a stable and efficient source of funding for our aviation system.”

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EXCLUSIVE: House aviation subcommittee chair Jerry Costello on reauthorization, controller morale, and his hopes for a ‘different attitude’ at the FAA

When Congress returns for a full session next year, all eyes will be watching Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL), who heads the aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. Costello and his colleagues will be taking point on the all-important FAA reauthorization bill, without which NextGen will remain nothing but a pipe dream.

Last week, Congressman Costello sat down with Fly NextGen to talk about his frustrations with times past and his hopes for times to come.

To read the interview from the beginning, start here.

Selected quotes:

On his skepticism: “The FAA does not have the best track record in their attempts to improve the air traffic control system. A lot of money has been spent — not only under this administration — and we have very little to show for it.” (Link)

On capacity: “I think it would be a mistake to believe that NextGen and the infrastructure improvements are not needed because of the temporary reduction in the number of flights.” (Link)

On user fees: [The Bush administration] “spent a great deal of time talking about imposing user fees, and at no time explained to the American people, let alone the Congress, how the system would work. So it was a major failure on their part.” (Link)

Economic stimulus: “There are projects that are ready to go, as far as runway and taxiway improvements and other issues addressing congestion and safety. And I believe that airport improvements should be part of any stimulus package that has a component for improving our infrastructure.” (Link)

Labor relations: “Recently, I was in a tower at an U.S. airport that is extremely busy, and of the dozen or so controllers that were on duty, the most experienced controller was on the job 18 months, and many of them were there less than a year. So there’s a horrible morale problem, everybody recognizes it but the FAA.” (Link)

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