Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Governor's Use of the State's $1000 An Hour Plane

Today's Indianapolis Star carries an article this morning discussing how the Governor had used (or attempted to use before the windshield cracked) the state's King Air prop plane to fly to Washington, D.C. to appear on a couple network news shows and attend the National Governor's Association. Governor Daniels was the lone passenger on the plane that seats 9 passengers.

According to the news reports, the plane cost $791 an hour to operate, plus $184 in maintenance costs for each hour of flying time. I would have certainly question whether there are other fees involved. I believe there would have been landing fees associated with the plane using the airport and the plane would have had to be stored during the day, both of which propably had expenses associated with it. I'm not sure what landing and storage fees would be, but I think it's safe to conclude that the entire trip cost taxpayers in excess of $5,000.

The Governor defends the trip saying that there was no commercial option that would have gotten him to Washington, D.C. in time. That reference is probably related to his plan to appear on a couple Sunday morning news programs.

I'm all for the Governor being able to move about the state quickly. Having your Governor on the road for long periods of time in a car takes him away from work he might otherwise be able to do. I see nothing wrong, for example, with the Governor, boarding the state plane to fly from Indianapolis to Evansville or South Bend, both trips that take, one way, 3 plus hours by car, but less than an hour by plane.

But when the State's plane is used not in place of in-state travel by car, but rather because the Governor does not want to take a commercial flight, well that's a lot tougher to defend. The Governor was the sole passenger on the plane. In the article he talks about how taking a commercial flight would have required arriving the night before and a hotel stay. While he declines to do the calculation, it doesn't take much in the way of math skills to figure out that a commercial flight would have saved the taxpayers thousands of dollars.

The times are tough. Everyone needs to make sacrifices, including the Governor. He needs to be flying commercial for trips like this.


Patriot Paul said...

You have a point. For all the talk about State and Local reform, what about our Chief Executive Office. Surveying storm damage by air is one thing, but out of state excursions reminds me of automakers taking private jets to a bailout. Dah?

Paul K. Ogden said...


Then the next time they went didn't they drive the next time, carpooling in hybrid? I thought I remember such foolishness. That's just a PR stunt. They should have just gotten a plane. That's the reasonable thing to do.

Zappatista said...

I see nothing wrong with him using the plane, but why not stop and pick up the Governor's of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania and have them share the costs? Yes, I know....ludicrous thought....

Jon said...

Off topic, is this the same plane the former state police superintendent leased?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Jon, I don't know.