Opponents of Higher Airport Taxes Speak Out on Infrastructure Week
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – This is Infrastructure Week, when lawmakers and the Trump administration are looking for ways to fund a $2 trillion upgrade for the nation's crumbling roads, bridges, dams and more.
Some have suggested raising the Passenger Facility Charge. Airports now tack the charge onto ticket prices, and the money goes to fund airport upgrades. However, this Aviation Trust Fund now has a $7 billion surplus.
So, Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president for legislative policy with the group Airlines for America, said it's smarter to keep ticket prices stable, which she said is key to the financial health of major airports, such as St. Louis' Lambert International.
"St. Louis has certainly been an airport that has seen some ups and downs because of the loss of TWA at the time," she said, "But again, that's why it's important to continue to keep costs low, to be able to attract new traffic."
St. Louis is looking at refinancing its bonds to free up money for airport improvements. Kansas City International Airport recently broke ground on a $1.5 billion terminal without raising costs to consumers.
Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, said he thinks Congress should look at alternative ways to fund road and bridge repairs, rather than diverting airport taxes for other uses.
"The total government burden on an airline ticket is now exceeding an average of 20%," he said. "That's a higher tax rate than most middle-class travelers will pay on their 1040 tax return."
The Show Me State's roads and bridges could use more funding from Congress. The 2018 Infrastructure report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Missouri a grade of 'C' for the condition of its bridges, 4,800 of which need repairs. The state's roads got a 'D-plus.'
The ASCE Infrastructure Report Card for Missouri is online at infrastructurereportcard.org.