October 9, 2011

“The idea the administration has of a $100 per-flight user fee is just another burden, another fee, another tax that is not necessary and very inefficient,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) in an October 6 statement on the Senate Floor.

Explaining that 80 percent of Alaska’s communities are accessed not by roads, but by water or air, Begich said, “General aviation is not a luxury in Alaska; it is a necessity.” Echoing the themes of the No Plane, No Gain advocacy campaign, Begich added that general aviation is essential for business, life safety and connecting rural towns to each other and the world. With so many people relying on general aviation, Begich said, “It’s critical that we have the right kind of aviation system,” and called on the administration to stop demonizing legitimate business travel.

The $100 per-flight user fee proposed by President Obama to partially fund his jobs bill “is not a wise or even cost-effective way to administer a tax,” said Begich. The user fee proposal has not gained traction in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced a bill with the same incentives for creating jobs as the president’s proposal, but funds the package with a surtax on personal income over $1 million instead of measures like user fees on general aviation.

“General aviation users pay their fair share now,” said Begich. “They pay for the aviation system through a per-gallon tax on their aviation fuel. As a matter of fact, the general aviation industry has even agreed to a modest increase in this fuel tax as part of the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] reauthorization bill, and it shows their commitment to pay their fair share, but in an efficient way.”

Begich also criticized a proposal in the president’s jobs bill that would change the way businesses can treat the depreciation of general aviation aircraft, saying, “it would create a disincentive to buy American-made aircraft, and further depress an industry that has felt the impacts of the recession.”

Watch a video of Sen. Begich’s October 6 floor statement.