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Nebraska governor wants to buy $2.2 million airplane

By   /   January 15, 2013  /   7 Comments

Gov. Dave Heineman’s budget proposal includes $2.2 million to buy an airplane from the University of Nebraska Foundation. Photo by Bethany Schmidt/Nebraska Watchdog

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN – Buried within the thick budget proposal released by Gov. Dave Heineman today is a proposal to buy an airplane for $2.2 million.

The governor’s budget proposal includes money to purchase a Beechcraft Super King Air B200 from the University of Nebraska Foundation.

Budget documents say the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics has a lease-purchase agreement with the foundation with an option to buy the plane any time before the lease expires on June 30. The Aeronautics Department’s budget request also includes nearly $284,000 to upgrade the avionics system of the airplane and nearly $7,400 to insure it — for a total of $2.5 million in costs.

State Budget Administrator Gerry Oligmueller said the plane has been operated by the Aeronautics Department and used by foundation and higher education officials and the state has an opportunity to buy it and sell a 1982 Piper Cheyenne airplane. That would reduce the Aeronautics Department’s current fleet of three airplanes to two.

Heineman said it’s important for the governor and state officials to be able to traverse the state in a state airplane. The university and “anybody in state government” willing to pay the cost of using the plane can do so, he said.

However, Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist said he doesn’t think spending $2.2 million on a state airplane should be a priority when needs for funding of things like children’s mental health care are “crying for money.”

“I don’t know why a plane would be a priority,” he said. “The governor has a driver to drive him around.”

The aeronautics department’s budget recommendation says one of its goals is to upgrade the state-owned aircraft fleet “to ensure continued mission support at the highest levels of comfort and safety.”

The University of Nebraska Foundation has not returned a phone call seeking comment.

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org.

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Deena Winter has been a journalist for over 20 years, writing stories for the Northwood Gleaner, Bismarck Tribune, Associated Press, Denver Post and Lincoln Journal Star before joining Watchdog.

  • Stephanie

    Nordquist is an idiot. Now it appears his political logic is receding faster than his hairline. Hey, Jermey, South Dakota will always take you back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joan.bale.96 Joan Bale

    The aeronautics department’s recommendation says “mission support at the highest levels of comfort and safety.”. Excuse me? Our Governer has been speaking about how we have to cut back on funding of healthcare, medicaid, education, food stamps, WIC, etc, etc. Let the people suffer and deal with an ecconomy in the dumpster but HE the big cheese needs comfort and safety, a limo and driver isn’t good enough. Get real Gov Heineman.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Buy a plane? Really? How about DRIVING to events in Nebraska and flying COACH like the rest of the working people when needing to go out of state anything over 500 miles? Me thinks Herr HeineyMan has a bit of the “let them eat cake” mentality.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Really, let him ride in a Nebraska Army National Guard helicopter with the side door open if he REALLY has to fly anywhere in the state.

  • David

    There are more affordable options for the Gov and state officials to traverse the State. I’m sure there is enough time in their busy schedules to take the time to drive so they can actually see what’s going on themselves and speak with the people they represent rather than their political contributors. And this would be $2.5 million less the state would have to come up with to cover the costs of the new healthcare program that the state officials chose to implement.

  • Peggy of Omaha

    King Heineman needs to take some cuts himself by starting with a plane. He is all for cutting programs, that benefit the needy of Nebraska, and for what? So he will have millions for a new toy…………..a plane. What a flaming hypocrite. Enough is enough. Officials are NOT elected, so they can live the life of luxury.
    Retire King Heineman.

  • Peggy of Omaha

    Heineman is a self-righteous hypocrite.