Texas will take over funding of air traffic control towers at 13 airports that will lose them to the federal government’s sequester cuts. The state’s department of transportation made the decision on Thursday but it won’t become official until the Texas Transportation Commission ratifies it. The commission is meeting in an emergency session next week to consider the move. That seems like a formality, however. “Safety is the primary reason we felt a need to take immediate action for the air travelers and business aircraft that use these airports,” Texas Transportation Commissioner Fred Underwood said in a news release.
Texas will pay for the towers out of its existing aviation budget and there was no mention of additional levies or taxes to cover the cost. Not everyone is happy with the move. There are apparently issues with the state’s terrestrial transportation infrastructure and critics say the willingness to pick up the slack from the feds on aviation funding flies in the face of the department of transportation’s public stance on highways funding. “I’m not quite sure why TxDOT — who seems to be broke and wants to charges us more to drive on roads — has all of a sudden come up with money to keep open the Dallas Executive Airport,” said Katrina Pierson, a Tea Party activist in Garland. “They definitely want to keep the private jets in the air, for whatever reason.”