During his 2010 campaign, newly elected Gov. Rick Scott promised to get rid of the state government’s fleet of planes, which had sparked controversyafter both Democratic and Republican state leaders were accused of overusing them.
However, problems surrounding Scott’s efforts to carry out this goal are revealing how questionable, unnecessary and polar the move is to the best interest of Floridians and their state government.
It is certainly problematic financially, if not legally.
The state boasts two planes in its fleet. One, an eight-seat Cessna Citation Bravo jet, is currently under lease with $3.4 million still owed, according to the Orlando Sentinel. According to the Department of Management Services, the Cessna would fetch only $2.7 million if sold.
A nine-seat Beechcraft King Air turboprop, the state’s other jet, needs $270,000 in engine repairs or the plane will drop $500,000 in value, according to the Sentinel. This may be a difficult task to complete before the Feb. 9 date set for bids on the aircraft.
The debt that will be incurred has attracted the attention of Dean Cannon, the Republican Speaker of the House, who said the governor’s office couldn’t incur the debt without proper authority, according to the Sentinel.
Selling the planes would also unwisely jeopardize the state government’s ability to quickly and efficiently travel for unexpected reasons like an emergency response.
The state of Florida is more than 400 miles long, according to citydata.com, and drivers could spend hours on the road crossing its borders. If government officials were forced to travel through Tallahassee Regional Airport, they would be at the mercy of the four airlines it services and a limited number of in-state flights, which are often accompanied by transfers and long delays.
Though the planes initially caught the public’s eye with their questionable usage, their public flight log can be continually tracked for abuses, allowing for proper oversight without jeopardizing elected leaders’ ability to easily reach their constituency.
Scott, who amassed extraordinary wealth as a former health care executive, owns a own private jet – a Raytheon Beechjet 400 that displays his initials on the tail. By using his own jet instead of the state’s, Scott can avoid scrutiny by refusing the public’s access to his flight records
It’s easy to demand sacrifices when you’re not the one making them. This move will erase oversight of Scott’s travels and make him look tough on “spending,” all without having to experience the hassles of driving or taking commercial flights as his peers must – a great move for Scott, but a bad one for the Florida government.