Florida Governor Rick Scott is already getting to work on slashing spending. Among his first orders of business is putting the two state planes on the auction block. It's designed to send the message that it's a new day in Tallahassee, but the move doesn't come without controversy.
If you've got the money, does Rick Scott have a deal for you – two airplanes, a turboprop and a jet in slightly used condition, bearing the great seal of Florida. They'll be up for auction February 9th.
Scott says the planes are a bad deal for taxpayers.
“They badly need those dollars for their needs,” he said. “We must treat those resources with the respect they deserve and keep our demands to an absolute minimum.”
Beyond the initial profit, scrapping the air pool would save the state around $2.5 million a year, but keep in mind Florida has a $65 billion budget, and not having a plane at the ready could carry some big consequences.
“The state planes are not Air Force One!”
Kevin Cate was a top aide to former state CFO Alex Sink. In that role, he was a frequent flyer on the state planes, rushing with his boss to areas devastated by hurricanes, wildfires, even the BP oil spill.
Sink and other officials were accused of overusing their flying privileges, but Cate says immediate access to a plane in the capital is critical.
“It's very difficult to get into and out of Tallahassee on short notice,” he said. “It's very expensive, very cost-prohibitive, and I would hate to see the state lose money because officials are trying to get into and out of Tallahassee very quickly.”
If the auction goes as planned, Florida would become one of the only geographically big states not to have even a single executive aircraft. Texas, Georgia, Nebraska... they all have them. But, remember Scott says we have to be different.
“As I told Rick Perry, whatever they do in Texas, we're gonna do better!”
So, fasten your seat belt. The governor and his reforms are prepared for takeoff.
As for how Governor Scott will get around the state? He has his own private jet.