Berg Helps Increase Subsidies For “Essential” But Little-Used Rural Air Services
According to Fox News, “tea party” Republicans like Representatives Rick Berg and Kristi Noem not only blocked a proposed end to the Essential Air Service program, they got an increase in the subsidies.
Because it’s not like the federal government is running a budget deficit over $1 trillion for the fourth year in a row or anything.
WASHINGTON – Tea party lawmakers from rural areas were among those fighting the hardest to preserve taxpayer subsidies for airline flights into and out of small towns last year after senior Republicans tried to eliminate the oft-criticized program. Now, the House Appropriations Committee is awarding the program an 11 percent budget hike.
Next year, the subsidies would reach a record $214 million under a bill the GOP-run committee approved Tuesday.
The subsidies can reach hundreds of dollars per ticket — and can exceed $1,000 in a few cases — though a recent overhaul of the program will soon take care of such cases.
Last year, the House voted to eliminate the program in the lower 48 states by 2013. But rural tea party lawmakers like Reps. Rick Berg, R-N.D., and Kristi Noem, R-S.D., were among those who fought to save it.
The EAS program was first started by Jimmy Carter. According to Berg, it really is “essential” to North Dakota communities like Devils Lake and Jamestown:
“Rural regions rely on (the Essential Air Service subsidies) for vital air transportation,” Berg said on the House floor in February. “In North Dakota, airports like Jamestown and Devil’s Lake would not be able to provide critical air service without this support.” Berg, Noem and others won public assurances that the program would not be killed in the end.
According to recently-released numbers, the Devils Lake and Jamestown airports are the only two airports in the state with declining boarding numbers.
EAS flights out of Devils Lake are subsidized to the tune of $2,123 per flight, according to documents from the Department of Transportation, and every flight out of Jamestown takes with it $3,929.
The average number of passengers on flights out of Devils Lake and Jamestown, from 2006 to 2011, was 6.24 and 3.83 respectively. That works out to a per-passenger, per-flight subsidy of $340 for Devils Lake, and over $1,000 for Jamestown.
But remember, according to Berg, it’s essential that federal tax payers pay thousands of dollars for flights with less than 10 passengers on them.
This sort of “leadership” is why America is broke.Tags: devils lake, essential air service, jamestown, North Dakota News, Rick Berg, subsidies