April 17, 2014

Budget bills advance, governor’s airplane remains an issue (AUDIO)

State lawmakers have advanced the seven budget bills into position for final approval, but not until they once again discussed the governor’s plane.

Or, perhaps, the lack of a governor’s plane.

The legislature on first-round budget debate rejected the Appropriations Committee recommendation to spend $2.2 million to buy a King Air airplane from the University of Nebraska Foundation for the governor and state officials to use. The state currently leases the plane from the foundation for $10,000 a month. The foundation plans to sell the plane.

Instead of buying the plane, a study of the air travel needs of the state will be undertaken.

An amendment to LB 194, the deficit spending bill, sponsored by Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton calls for the Legislative Council to contract for an independent study.

Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney sarcastically suggests to colleagues that perhaps they are micro-managing a bit.

“Well, the governor drives, I think, a Chevy Suburban,” Hadley states. “Maybe we ought to find out which car would be best for him to drive or whether maybe a hybrid would be better for him to drive or, maybe, I don’t know with the bus services in outstate Nebraska, maybe it would be cheaper to have him take the bus. I’m just saying we’re getting down into the weeds.”

Hadley notes that the Department of Aeronautics that currently flies the King Air recommended the state buy the plane from the foundation.

Hadley and a few other senators question the wisdom of turning down that recommendation.

“So, we decided now we’ll do a study. We’ll come back next year and we’ll probably argue again next year,” Hadley tells colleagues during floor debate. “What are we afraid of, that somebody is going to try and cheat us?”

AUDIO: Sen. Galen Hadley’s floor speech on the legislature’s rejection of a proposal to buy a state plane. [3 min.]