By Paul Beebe
The Salt Lake Tribune
A proposal to change how the Federal Aviation Administration is funded would hurt small businesses and rural communities that rely on small aircraft for important services, former Utah Sen. Jake Garn said Thursday.
The Senate Commerce Committee will conduct hearings next week on a bill that would replace the 4.3-cent-per-gallon jet fuel tax that big airlines pay with a $25 per flight fee that all airplanes would pay.
Another provision of the bill would double the aviation fuel tax that smaller aircraft pay, from 21 cents a gallon to 49 cents.
The bill, and a similar measure in the House, would replace the current FAA funding method, which expires Sept. 30.
“This is the only time since I left the Senate that I wished I was still there so I could talk some common sense into my former colleagues. I think it will have long-term negative impacts on small businesses and communities across the nation,” Garn said.
Garn spoke during a teleconference arranged by the Alliance for Aviation Across America, a Washington, D.C.-based group that is attempting to derail the new FAA funding proposals.
The alliance has called on Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, to oppose the bill and to support a measure passed out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The House bill would maintain the current tax system, but would have provisions that would raise an additional $600 million in the first year that could be used to modernize the country’s overburdened air traffic control system, alliance spokeswoman Mara Lee said.
Hatch has not said how he will vote.
Also opposing the Senate bill are Arthur Douglas, president of the Utah Farmers Union; St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur; and Stephen Thompson, a member of the Logan City Council.
Douglas said crop-duster companies would be required to pay the fee every time they took to the air to apply pesticides.
The expense would be passed on to Utah farmers and ranchers, who could not cover their higher costs through higher prices, Douglas said.
Source: SALT LAKE TRIBUNE