On February 4, 2008, President Bush submitted to Congress his Administration’s annual budget request for the 2009 fiscal year (FY09), which begins on October 1, 2008. The budget, totaling $3.1 trillion, includes funding for all federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Why It’s Important
The President’s FY09 budget request contains a number of deep cuts in aviation programs, including a cut of $765 million for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).
The President’s FY09 budget also once again marks the Administration’s continued push to implement a “user fee” system to fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.
The President’s FY09 budget would provide $14.6 billion for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operations, compared to $14.92 billion in FY08. Programs funded in the FAA budget request include:
$9.67 billion for the Air Traffic Organization, including $11.3 million to hire and train more than 300 air traffic controllers
$2.05 billion for Safety & Operations, including funding for the Aviation Safety Office (AVS) at the FAA
$2.75 billion for the AIP, down from the $3.5 billion appropriated by Congress for FY08.
$171 million for Research, Engineering & Development, an increase from the $147 million appropriated by Congress in FY08.
Other programs of note in the President’s FY09 budget include:
Proposed financing reforms to eliminate the current ticket tax system because it is “based on the price of a ticket and has no direct link to the FAA’s cost of managing aircraft.” The proposed system would generate “revenues based on the costs that different flights impose on the air traffic system, whether they are commercial, business, or general aviation.”
$100 million towards cargo security inspectors and canine teams with the goal of achieving 100% screening of passenger cargo by 2010.
$30 million will support the TSA’s vetting programs “to stabilize and enhance the agency’s multiple systems such as crew vetting, Secure Identification Display Area checks, and the Alien Flight Student program. This enhancement will enable the TSA to conduct vetting operations efficiently and effectively on populations that access the most vulnerable areas of the transportation system.”
$100 million for the Department’s E-Verify program. “This U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services program allows employers to use an automated system to verify name, date of birth and Social Security Number, along with immigration information for non-citizens, against federal databases to confirm the employment eligibility of both citizen and non-citizen new hires. The program will deploy additional staff to include information status verifiers, and compliance and monitoring staff.”
As in prior years, NATA is extremely disappointed by the Administration’s FY09 budget request with regard to funding the FAA. In what is becoming an annual tradition of political posturing, this budget does nothing more than slash AIP funding that Congress annually restores and ignore Congressional directive to work within the confines of the existing tax infrastructure funding aviation programs that are critical to the development of America’s commercial and general aviation airports.
However, the association is supportive of the DHS budget and its resource allocation to improve aviation security at commercial and general aviation airports.
The release of the President’s budget is just the first step in a long process to attempt to fund the federal government’s agencies. Congressional hearings will soon take place among the various agencies, and the budget resolution outlining Congress’ spending figures for the 2009 fiscal year will begin to be drafted.