GAO Warns of Shortfall in Aviation Trust Fund
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned this week that the excise taxes that feed the Airport and Airway Trust Fund have been lower than previously forecast, while estimates of future revenues have declined because of a drop in passenger traffic, fares and fuel consumption. Moreover, the uncommitted balance in the trust fund has been decreasing since Fiscal Year 2001. For the short run, lower-than-expected excise taxes will reduce the balance even further and could affect funding for FAA programs this year and next. In the longer run, continued declines in trust fund revenues may require Congress to cut spending on FAA operations and capital projects, or increase revenues for the trust fund by introducing new fees, increasing taxes or increasing the portion of the FAA’s funding provided by the General Fund. The GAO also called for a “timely” reauthorization of the FAA, lest continued short-term funding measures delay key capital projects and affect progress toward NextGen.