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ACI President Expresses Concern Over Budget Blueprint

In a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Airports Council International-North America President Greg Principato expressed worry about a proposal in the Obama administration’s Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Blueprint that could mean the loss of dedicated funds for transportation improvements.

The Aviation and Airway Trust Fund was created to ensure that money garnered from established aviation excise taxes and user fees would be used exclusively for the maintenance and improvements of the aviation system. The blueprint calls for handling them in the same manner as general revenue in the appropriations process.

“We agree wholeheartedly with the 14 House and Senate members who have stated that the proposed changes would undermine the stability of funding. If enacted, this provision would hinder the Federal Aviation Administration’s and airports’ ability to address long-term safety and capacity issues,” Principato wrote, in reference to a letter sent to the Office of Management and Budget on Friday by a bipartisan, bicameral group of members with jurisdiction over aviation and transportation issues.

Those who oppose the provision include House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Congressman James Oberstar, D-Minn., and Ranking Member Congressman John Mica, R-Fla.; Aviation Subcommittee Chairman, Congressman Jerry Costello, D-Ill., and Ranking Member, Congressman Thomas Petri, R-Wis.; and  Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Ranking Member, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas    .

“Converting mandatory contract authority into discretionary budget authority threatens the unique structure of the trust fund system, and could undermine the budgetary firewalls which ensure that receipts from aviation excise taxes and user fees are reinvested in infrastructure,” said Principato. “At a time when the president has identified rebuilding our transportation infrastructure as a national priority, we should not alter this proven system.”