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"FAA Bill Recommends Full Airport Grant Funding"

Monday, May 7, 2007

FAA Bill Recommends Full Airport Grant Funding 
By Adrian Schofield
Aviation Daily

In what has become an annual tradition, Senate lawmakers have once again
signaled that they are not prepared to accept the administration's proposal
for cutting FAA's airport spending.

The Senate Commerce Committee last week revealed its version of the FAA
reauthorization bill, including a recommendation for $3.8 billion in airport
improvement program (AIP) funding in fiscal 2008 - slightly more than the
$3.5 billion provided for FY2007. This is significantly higher than FAA's
own FY2008 budget request, which calls for $2.75 billion in AIP grants.
Although the Commerce Committee can only recommend funding levels, its views
carry a lot of weight with Senate appropriators.

AIP appropriations have followed a similar course for the past three years.
FAA has recommended steep cuts from previous appropriated levels, only to
see Congress reverse the cuts in their spending bills. Like other agencies,
FAA has been coming under pressure to reduce spending, but airport groups
have been successful in convincing lawmakers that the cuts should not come
from AIP.

The Senate bill also recommends more funding in the out years than the FAA
version. Under the Senate proposal, AIP would get $3.9 billion in FY2009, $4
billion in FY2010 and $4.1 billion in FY2011. The FAA's reauthorization
request, meanwhile, calls for $2.9 billion in FY2009 and just over $3
billion in FY2010.

It is harder to compare the funding recommendations for FAA's two other
major budget lines. Traditionally, these categories have been listed as
operations and facilities and equipment (F&E). But for FY2008, FAA has
essentially reorganized these to come up with two completely new accounts,
labeled Air Traffic Organization and safety and operations. The Senate
reauthorization bill sticks with the old budget lines of operations and F&E.

The Commerce Committee is recommending $8.7 billion for operations in
FY2008, nearly $9 billion in FY2009, $9.3 billion in FY2010 and $9.6 billion
in FY2011. The F&E line would receive $2.6 billion in FY2008, $2.9 billion
in FY2009, $3 billion in FY2010, and $3.3 billion in FY2011. Some of the F&E
money would come from a new $25 user fee proposed in the Commerce Committee
bill. This would contribute $412 million of the F&E total in FY2009, $423
million in FY2010 and $436 million in FY2011.

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