Updated at 7:07 p.m. with comments from State Sen. Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City).
Some Republicans in the State Senate are expressing outrage that the Missouri State Highway Patrol spent $5.6 million on a new airplane that could be used by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon and other elected state officials. Freshman Senator Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) says he and a few other senators paid a visit today to Jefferson City Memorial Airport to examine the King Air 250. He says lawmakers should have had input into the purchase.
“It was circumventing the legislature to purchase a new plane for the governor to fly around the state to have these press conferences," Silvey said. "It’s very troubling, especially at this time…this is the Governor that recommended cutting $100 million out of Higher Education last year.”
Silvey says he was told by the Highway Patrol that the plane’s first flight was today, and that it would be used to take Governor Nixon to St. Louis. He also says he took pictures of the plane and posted them to his Twitter account. The governor’s office referred all calls to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which has not responded to our requests for a comment.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol has purchased a new $5.6 million airplane that could be used by Gov. Jay Nixon and other state officials.
Documents provided Wednesday to The Associated Press show the state bought a King Air 250 airplane in December.
Some senators raised concerns about the airplane Wednesday during a budget hearing and a separate confirmation hearing for the appointment of longtime Nixon aide Doug Nelson as state commissioner of administration.
Nelson said the plane was bought with Highway Patrol funds.
Patrol spokesmen did not immediately return messages Wednesday.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, a Republican from Columbia, said his committee will conduct a thorough review of the purchase. Democratic St. Louis Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said the purchase doesn't make economic sense given tight state budgets.
In 2011, Nixon's air travel was a campaign issue. Back then, Nixon said that he was not going to sit “cloistered in his office in Jefferson City.”