Congress Rejects User Fees -- For A Year

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Congress has decided to maintain the status quo in funding the FAA and that means no user fees, at least not yet. The funding bill passed last week by Congress continues to bankroll the agency through the Airway and Airports Trust Fund and from general revenue. "Congress, acting as the board of directors for the FAA, has once again decided that the fairest, most responsible way to pay for aviation's benefits to all citizens is through excise taxes and general fund contributions," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And that's why we want to make sure that Congress retains oversight of the FAA." However, the real political test will gear up next year as the FAA and Congress consider the expiration of the trust fund's 10-year mandate in 2007. The FAA has made it clear that it wants to change the existing funding, which is based on fuel taxes, to a system where revenue is tied directly to services provided. That screams user fees to AOPA and other alphabet groups, who warn that could lead to charges for everything from weather briefings to landings at federally funded airports. "Frankly, this is not something that we can allow to happen," said Boyer.