I’m sitting in Newark Airport on the way back from the ACI World conference in Bermuda. That meant I was out of the country for the election and this gave me time to think.
It seems like the country wants different things: focus on jobs, no focus on the deficit, no focus on taxes, and no focus on spending. Reading a story how Americans feel about these seemingly (in some cases) contradictory desires, the polls say that people are pretty evenly split. No one is happy, that is clear. But on specifics, kind of split.
But one thought keeps popping into my pre-occupied head. By giving airports more room under the outdated federal law that limits local user fees airports can charge; Congress can satisfy all of these urges. The Passenger Facility Charge user fee is a proven jobs creator. It spends not a dime of federal money, so jobs are created without increasing the deficit. It satisfies the urge to meet national needs without federal spending and as a local fee paid only by users, it is NOT a tax as was so splendidly explained by Senate Commerce Committee REPUBLICANS earlier this year.
And by promoting economic growth and vitality long into the future, it continues to create jobs long into the future. In fact, when I was in state government in the 80’s, businesses told us over and over that a strong transportation system was their key priority.
Politicians of all stripes will be looking for ways to address the understandable anger and impatience of the American people. Here is a way to do it. Pass FAA reauthorization with an increase in the federal limit on this local user fee. And watch good things happen.