User Fee Debate Simmers

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While the difficult economic and perception problems plaguing the business aviation industry have center stage at the National Business Aviation Association convention this week in Orlando, background work on the reauthorization of the FAA continues, and NBAA President Ed Bolen told today's opening session that there is strong opposition to the administration's apparent preference for user fees to fund the agency. Bolen noted the House and the Senate now both have general aviation caucuses opposed to the notion of user fees. Bolen noted FAA bills passed by the House and under consideration by the Senate don't mention user fees and that fees have been rejected in previous bills. As he was discussing the issue with members, there were some developments on Capitol Hill, according to AOPA.

In a news release on Tuesday, AOPA said 118 members of Congress signed a letter (PDF) urging President Barack Obama to abandon user fees in favor of keeping the current system of fuel taxes. "[T]he House has opposed this approach in legislation to reauthorize the FAA in both the 110th and 111th Congresses," the letter reads. "Therefore, proposing user fees to finance the FAA would be a non-starter in the House." The letter also says pressing for user fees would become a distraction as the FAA tries to get the Next Generation Airspace System going.