A recent emergency plane landing reignited a long debate in the State of Florida: Does the state need a planes?
When Rick Scott was elected governor of Florida in 2010, he sold two state-owned airplanes and laid off the 11 employees who worked in the state air pool, following through on a campaign promise to cut spending, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. It cost more than $3,000 per hour to fly a state fleet plane, or about $2.4 million per year.
During his term, Scott used his personal jet for all air travel, and state officials had to travel by car or use commercial flights, reported the Tampa Bay Times.
Now that Scott has left the office, new Governor Rick DeSantis is depending on a Beechcraft King Air, a former drug plane seized by the Department of Law Enforcement. But last week, the plane was forced to make an emergency landing while transporting DeSantis, the state attorney general, and four members of DeSantis’ staff from Tallahassee to Fort Lauderdale, bringing the plane debate to the spotlight, reported the Daily Commercial.
“Today's aircraft incident underscores the importance of dependable transportation for Cabinet members,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in a statement. “As statewide public servants in one of the largest states in the nation, an efficient method of air transportation is prudent to best serve our constituents, conduct state business, and carry out the duties of our offices.”
In order to buy aircraft, the governor’s office will need to meet with state legislators to secure funding. Florida’s House Speaker and Senate President released statements that they are open to reviewing the options available. But, as the Tampa Bay Times noted, the return of state-owned planes are expected to come with stricter use guidelines.