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(Neb)-Trump Budget Ends Funding For EAS  Listen

By: John Axtell Posted at: 03/17/2017 02:05 PM
SCOTTSBLUFF - Scotts Bluff Airport Authority Board Chair Don Overman says the Nebraska Congressional delegation has been alerted that President Trump’s proposed budget calls for eliminating all funding for the Essential Air Service program.

      EAS provides subsidies for airline service between small, rural airports and major hubs. Nebraska has 8 communities receiving EAS subsidies including Chadron, Alliance, and Scottsbluff.

        Overman says eliminating EAS, which is funded at $175-million dollars for the current fiscal year, would eliminate scheduled air service to large parts of the country and be devastating to rural America.

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Overman says its also a matter of fairness to rural areas since mass transit programs in urban areas would still get funding under the Trump budget.

   Pierre, S.D., Mayor Laurie Gill shares Overman's feelings, telling The Associated Press that while she appreciates efficient government, but the Essential Air Service program is "vital for rural America" and eliminating it would be a mistake.

      Using her city as an example, Gill said if Pierre had no service, residents would have to drive more than three hours to the nearest airport with the local hunting industry, which draws people from around the country, also suffering.

      While calling the Trump proposal "only the first shot across the bow" and admitting supporters "have a big fight on our hands" on keep the funding, Overman remains optimistic there is adequate support in Congress to save the EAS program...which has survived periodic attacks over the years.

      The EAS program was begun 3 decades ago as part of President Ronald Reagan's deregulation of the airline industry and Overman has been one of its most active supporters nearly all that time, beginning when he was mayor of Scottsbluff.


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