Haley Suggests State Planes Are For Sale
A sale could yield millions.
After reimbursing the State Aeronautics Commission nearly $10,000 for costs related to her use of the state’s two airplanes, Gov. Nikki Haley suggested today that the planes were no longer worth keeping.
When asked by Patch what she thought the planes were worth, Haley said, “We’re going to find out real soon.”
The state keeps two planes in its fleet, a 1990 King Air 350 and a 1983 King Air C90. A quick search of the going rate for the aircrafts shows the state could net millions from a potential sale.
A Freedom of Information Act request revealed the the C90 was purchased for under $600,000. The airplane sales website controller.com showed C90s from 1982 to 1986 being offered for between $800,000-$1,200,000. A 1990 King Air 350 had asking prices between $1,750,000-$2,000,000.*
On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that the governor paid back $9,590 to the State Aeronautics Commission, which is responsible for operating the planes.
The money the commission received was for the governor’s trips during a seven-day period in July. The governor criss-crossed the state touting ethics reform and tax cuts, while also attending a Medal of Valor ceremony in Anderson and signing five bills into law.
The governor’s spokesperson Rob Godfrey told the AP that the error in using the plane for those trips was a “staff oversight.”
The two plans are available on a first-come first-serve at no cost to state legislators, provided the trips are part of official business.
But in the 2011-2012 state budget, Haley’s first as governor, a provision was added that does not allow for use of the planes for bill signings or press conference. The provision was sponsored by, among others, Vincent Sheheen (D – Camden) and Jake Knotts (R – West Columbia). Haley defeated Sheheen for governor in 2010 and Knotts has been long-time rival of Haley’s, infamously referring to her as a “raghead.”
At a press conference recognizing successes at the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia on Monday, Haley stopped short of calling the provision politically-motivated. However, she did wonder aloud what purpose the planes now served.
“I need the plane to meet as many constituents as possible and tell them what we’re doing,” she said. “If I can’t do that, then I’m not sure why we need the planes.”
In the AP story, both Sheheen and Knott said the issues with the plan pre-dated Haley.
As a means of comparison, Gov. Mark Sanford used over $83,000 worth of flights in his last two years in office. In the first two years of her stint as governor, Haley and the rest of the state’s politicians have incurred just over $70,000 in costs.
The C90 operates at a rate of $850 per hour, while the King Air operates at a rate of $1,250. Trips by officials are absorbed by the State Aeronautics Commission’s budget.
* NOTE - The story has been updated to include more specific information about planes and their asking prices.