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Sat, Feb 04, 2012

Florida Senator Speaks Out Against User Fees

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 message."

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.

FMI: http://billnelson.senate.gov, www.nbaa.org

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