Federal Budget Funds Contract Towers
A new $1.1 trillion federal budget bill passed last week includes $140 million to ensure all 252 contract towers will stay open -- at least through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The tower staffing became uncertain during last year's budget battles, but a planned shutdown of 149 of the towers was averted when the FAA was allowed to shift funds from other programs. The funding for next year remains uncertain. "Some people may say it's case closed, but in the back of our minds, we're always thinking ahead," said Peter Moll, director of the Wittman Regional Airport, in Oshkosh, Wis. "We're excited there's funding included, but this could be coming back up again next year."
The budget also contained good news for Sikorsky Aircraft. Connecticut will get $3.3 billion for defense spending, including funds to continue development of a new Sikorsky rescue helicopter for the U.S. Air Force. "This will preserve the workforce we now have," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. "It will keep the workforce here at Sikorsky on the job." Sikorsky employs 6,566 workers in Connecticut.