The U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee held a hearing to discuss the potential effects of President Obama’s $100 per flight user fee proposal on small businesses in the aviation community.
The witnesses on the panel who are business owners shared the detrimental impact aviation user fees would have on their businesses, and universally agreed that a fuel tax was the best approach. When pressed by committee ranking member Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y) if they would accept higher fuel taxes in the event of a shortfall in the aviation trust fund, all of the business owners agreed.
“We don’t have an army of accountants to collect fees,” Martha King of King Flight Schools said. “We don’t need a new bureaucracy – a ‘Sky.R.S.’ Fuel taxes work perfectly. User fees would destroy our business.”
Dr. Kenneth Button of George Mason University was on the witness panel and took a contrary view, expressing his support for a user fee structure. However he had concerns with of the Obama administration’s $100 proposal due to its arbitrary nature. “Costs should be directly related to use,” Button said. “Different sectors use the system in different amounts.”
Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) closed the hearing by calling the Obama administration’s proposal, “revenue mining, and nothing else,” noting that the proposal would put user fees into the general fund, and not the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. Graves said the committee will be, “watching what happens in the omnibus spending bills… and will do everything we can to ensure user fees are not included in end-of-year spending measures.”