A state audit released today sharply criticizes the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) for spending $5.6 million on a new airplane.
According to the audit, the state of Missouri operated 23 aircraft prior to the purchase of the King Air 250. State Auditor Tom Schweich (R) says that included five passenger airplanes.
"There were 113 days in which none of the five existing planes flew, and there were no days in which all five of them flew," Schweich said. "So that leads to the question about why do you need to spend $5.6 million on a new plane?"
Missouri senators have confirmed Gov. Jay Nixon's appointee to a key administrative post, despite concerns about his role in approving the purchase of a new $5.6 million airplane.
The Senate on Monday signed off on the appointment of Doug Nelson as Commissioner of Administration.
Nelson had been scheduled for confirmation last week. But that was delayed after lawmakers learned Nelson — as Acting Administration Commissioner — had approved the purchase of the plane by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Colonel Ron Replogle told House budget writers that it was his idea to buy the $5.6 million aircraft. More than one committee member asked him about the quick timetable on the plane’s purchase, as the bid went out around December 6th and was awarded on the 17th. Replogle says Beechcraft was offering a discount on that particular King Air 250 because it was a year-old model.
The Missouri Highway Patrol and the Illinois State Police are urging drivers to slow down, buckle up and eliminate possible distractions in their cars as they return home from the Memorial Day weekend.
"Inattentive driving is a big problem. We see not only texting on cell phones; we also see reading books and newspapers, putting on makeup, eating full meals in cars," said Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
A proposed compromise to expand Missouri's texting-while-driving law appears to have fallen flat in a Senate committee.
The Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill by that would prohibit all drivers - not just those 21 and younger - from texting while driving. Because similar bills have failed in the past, Democratic Sen. Robin Wright-Jones of St. Louis proposed making texting a secondary offense - meaning police would have to pull motorists over for something else before they could write a ticket for texting.