Beechcraft Super King Air B200
The last of seven bills that make up the state budget was advanced in the Legislature Friday, without a $2.2 million state-owned airplane.The deficit appropriations bill, put forward by the Appropriations Committee, adjusts funding for certain state agencies for the current fiscal year.
The bill originally allocated funds to the the Department of Aeronautics to buy a 12-year-old, twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air B200 from the University of Nebraska Foundation, which has leased the aircraft to the state for several years. The governor and other officials used it to fly to remote parts of the state.
This year, Gov. Heineman said the state ought to buy it outright, but Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton introduced an amendment to take it out of the budet.
Dubas’ amendment requires the Department of Aeronautics to commission an independent study to determine the most cost-effective approach to address the state’s air transport needs.
The study would look into alternatives to purchasing an aircraft -- like renting and/or time-sharing a private plane -- as well as what aircraft would best fit the needs.
In a relatively close vote, the amendment was adopted 26-14.
“I do believe we have some options here,” Dubas said.
She said she would work with the fiscal office to draft an an amendment that would outline how the study would be conducted before the deficit bill comes up for another round of debate.
“Trust but verify,” Dubas said, quoting Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who also supported the amendment.