Fiscal Cliff Looms Large
For those of you who follow the activities of Congress, you know that we temporarily avoided falling off the fiscal cliff on December 31, 2012. The Budget Control Act of 2011, “sequestration,” will affect virtually every federal agency, requiring dramatic cuts in federal spending. Congress, unable to reach a consensus on ways to avoid the fiscal cliff by the end of last year, passed new legislation to postpone the cuts until March 1, 2013. Since Congress did not reach a consensus by the March target date, the FAA—its programs and personnel—will be seriously affected. Fortunately, programs and projects funded under the Airport Improvement Program are exempt from sequestration and will continue at current funding levels.
But this does not mean that TxDOT Aviation and our programs will necessarily escape unharmed. TxDOT Aviation has spent millions of dollars to construct new “non-federal” air traffic control towers at many of our reliever airports. Historically, the FAA has provided funding for private sector companies to man these towers, markedly improving safety of operation. Since sequestration is taking place, the FAA may find it necessary to cancel future operational funding for many or all of these towers. If this occurs, the operational funding would be the responsibility of the airport owners, placing a major financial burden on them. Some communities might be unable to meet this financial obligation, requiring the towers to close.