Senator Bill Nelson (D) Sends Letter To President Obama
Supporting GA Position
Florida's Senior Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, recently sent a
letter to the White House opposing President Barack Obama's
proposal for a $100 per-flight user fee on general aviation.
"I know we're facing difficult economic times in our country,"
Nelson wrote, "but we've got to get our financial house in order
without hindering high-growth industries, such as general
aviation…Adding new fees, such as a $100 departure tax, will
impact travelers and businesses alike, discouraging domestic
operations and threatening our global competitiveness."
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen welcomed the
senator’s message to the president. "Senator Nelson
(pictured) is exactly right in his opposition to the president's
user fee proposal when he points out that it will stifle general
aviation," Bolen said.
"The plan will unquestionably impact the 1.2 million Americans
involved in the industry, who are located in Florida and every
other state in the U.S. We appreciate the senator's support for our
industry and hope that the president will heed his well-considered
President Obama has repeatedly signaled his support for the
creation of new user fees, which would pose an onerous compliance
burden for operators and lead to the creation of an expensive
collection bureaucracy. The president first called for user fees in
2009 as part of his annual budget proposal for funding federal
programs. Last year, he renewed his call for user fees as part of
his proposal for addressing the nation’s deficit. Earlier
this year, the White House sent a message re-affirming the
administration’s support for user fees to individuals who
signed a petition asking the president to withdraw his support for
the new fees.
The general aviation community has long sought to build on the
existing fuel tax for operators to pay for their use of the
aviation system. The pay-at-the-pump fuel tax is easy to pay with
near total compliance. It is efficient for government to collect,
and it is environmentally friendly.
Senator Nelson has long opposed user fees. In a March 2010
interview for NBAA's Magazine, Business Aviation Insider, he noted
that the fees "would hurt small and medium-sized businesses by
taking away their ability to fly on their own schedules and get to
out-of-the-way areas not served by the airlines."
The senator has a first-hand understanding of the value of
general aviation. His state has substantial aircraft manufacturing,
including Piper Aircraft, Piaggio, Embraer, Rockwell Collins and
Avidyne. It is also home to many NBAA Member Companies, and Florida
served as host to NBAA's Annual Meeting & Convention.
Senator Nelson's latest letter raising concern over user fees
adds to the chorus of other lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have
spoken out against the administration’s user fee proposal. In
January of last year, 116 members of the House of Representatives
sent a letter to the president urging him to keep user fees out of
his annual budget proposal.
Later in the year, 23 senators sent a letter to the president
opposing user fees for deficit reduction.