A controversial proposal by Gov. Dave Heineman to buy a state airplane continues to be controversial in the legislature.
At first, the governor’s proposal to spend $2.2 million to buy an airplane from the University of Nebraska Foundation didn’t make it into the budget. Then, the Appropriations Committee relented and included it.
Still, Appropriations Committee member, Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, questioned how the proposal came about.
“This deal came together with a call from someone at the University Foundation to the governor’s office saying will you guys buy our plane?” Nordquist suggested to colleague during floor debate. “That’s not how we should be doing business in the state of Nebraska.”
An impromptu debate on the proposal to purchase the airplane broke out during floor debate on the $7.8 billion state budget for the next two years.
Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha proposed an amendment to set aside money to maintain the airplane, a 2001 King Air, and to eventually replace it.
Krist, a pilot, was quick to tell colleagues he isn’t against the governor and state agency officials having an airplane at their disposal to fly to appointments across the state.
“There has never been an argument from this pilot that said we don’t need an airplane,” Krist stated. “We owe it to the state of Nebraska to make sure that they have air travel. We also owe it to the state of Nebraska and the citizens to spend our dollars wisely.”
Krist later withdrew his amendment.
Debate on the budget continues.