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NATCA: Rumors of Trust Fund's Demise are Greatly Exaggerated - (5/4/2005)

WASHINGTON – Boldly asserting that there is no crisis in the Aviation Trust Fund, National Air Traffic Controllers Association Executive Vice President Ruth Marlin told the House Aviation Subcommittee today that “we should not underestimate the strength of the current Federal Aviation Administration funding system and we should not tamper with it lightly.”

“The Trust Fund is a stable and strong source of revenue,” Marlin said. “We should keep it that way by rejecting radical changes based on a manufactured ‘crisis.’” Marlin told the committee NATCA welcomes the public discussion of this critical policy decision, adding, “We were dismayed when the FAA announced on Monday its intention to dissolve the Trust Fund at the end of the current budget allocation period in 2007. We believe a robust discussion of this topic is in order before rushing to conclusions that may not serve our nation’s safety, security and economic best interests.”

NATCA maintains that the Trust Fund surpluses have provided a valuable source of stability, allowing our national aviation investment to continue through periods of brief decline so that program cuts are not made today that curb our nation’s long term economic growth. “In recent years, there have been dramatic fluctuations in the use of the Trust Fund to fund normal operations costs,” Marlin testified.

Continued Marlin: “Our nation’s aviation system benefits the entire country, not just the people who fly. Civil aviation accounts for nine percent of our gross domestic product – that’s over 900 billion dollars and over 11 million jobs. Americans enjoy the best and safest aviation system in the world because of the structure built many years ago whose foundation rests on resources drawn both from the aviation taxes and the general public. Reducing the contribution made by the public through general revenue could degrade the system, reduce efficiency and safety and restrict economic growth. These costs will be borne by every citizen not just the aviation industry.”

Marlin told the committee NATCA is not asserting that more money is needed to fund the FAA or the operations budget. “We understand the strains on the federal budget,” she remarked. “However, while we do not think that large increases from the general fund are needed, we also do not believe that major cuts are appropriate. For four of the eight years since the Trust Fund taxes were reauthorized, the general fund contribution for FAA operations exceeded $3 billion. However, the structure of our funding mechanism allows Congress to adjust the balance between the Trust Fund and general revenue as circumstances dictate.”

“Recognizing the significant national interest in maintaining and operating our air traffic control system, NATCA believes that Congress has acted properly in making these determinations.”

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