For Immediate Release
Monday, June 18, 2007
Washington, DC– The bipartisan, grassroots effort against the commercial airline-backed “user fees” tax solidified this week as several national, state and tribal organizations announced their opposition to this controversial proposal. The following groups have specifically released statements and letters over the last week on this harmful tax: the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Kentucky Coal Association, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (IBAND), the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) and the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association (KCA).
“We believe that ‘user fees’ could severely limit our members’ access to medical care, economic opportunity and emergency evacuation, as well as a host of other vital services and resources,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President, Bob Stallman in a letter (attached) to the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member, Charles Grassley (R-IA).
“In addition, local airfields are hubs of economic activity and bring millions of dollars annually to rural communities and allow small businesses, and the jobs they create, to stay in those areas. We believe that Congress should work to find ways to support and strengthen the small business economy of rural America through aviation, not unfairly tax it,” added Stallman in the letter.
S.1300, which was recently introduced in the Senate, would overhaul the current funding system for FAA in favor of a new “user fee” tax on small businesses and towns across the country that rely on small planes. In addition, the Senate Commerce Committee recommended elimination of the $.043 per gallon fuel tax the big airlines currently pay, while general aviation would be faced with a doubling of the fuel tax – from $.21/gallon to $.49/gallon. As a result, the commercial airlines would net out with a $500 million per year tax giveaway, which would be directly shouldered by small planes.
“For many of our tribal members, general aviation on and off reservation land, represents an important engine of economic activity and opportunity,” said Ross Racine, Executive Director of the Montana based Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) a leading national voice for Indian tribes, representing eighty-five percent of Indian-owned land in the U.S.. “We are calling upon the Montana delegation and all Members of Congress to protect jobs and economic development for our communities by rejecting user fees in any form and funding modernization in a manner that is fair to all users.”
On May 16th, the Senate Commerce Committee held a mark-up of this bill and considered an amendment by Senators John Sununu (R-NH) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) to remove the “user fee” tax from the Commerce Committee bill – this amendment was narrowly defeated by a vote of 12-11. In the coming weeks, the Senate Committee on Finance, which has traditional authority over tax and revenue matters, will consider its own bill on FAA funding.
“North Dakota’s cattlemen rely heavily upon small airports and small planes of all types for their livelihood,” said IBAND President Pat Becker. “The user fee and tax increase proposal being considered by the Senate represent a direct threat to our families, our farms and our rural communities. We are urging the North Dakota delegation in Washington to stand tall and reject userfees and unfair tax increases on general aviation in any form.”
“Kentucky’s coal industry depends on general aviation to conduct its business and operations – for this reason we strongly oppose the imposition of new ‘user fees’ in any form, including a flat-tax or ‘per-flight’ charges,” said Bill Caylor, President of the Kentucky Coal Association. “We see the imposition of a new user fee scheme, and the bureaucracy required to enforce it, as a direct tax on Kentucky’s businesses and industries that will cost us jobs and hurt our state’s economy.”
Members of the Alliance for Aviation Across America also include: the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, whose membership is comprised of 412,000 members nationwide, the National Business Aviation Association, whose membership includes 8,000 members, the National Farmers Union, the League of Rural Voters, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, the National Grange, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council , the American Corn Growers Association, the Independent Cattlemen of Texas, the Texas Farm Bureau, Air Care Alliance, the National Agricultural Aviation Association, Helicopter Association International, and over 1,200 small and medium-size businesses, charitable organizations, and groups and associations from across the nation.
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