© 2022 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Audit of Mo. Hwy. Patrol Criticizes $5.6M Airplane Purchase, Examines School Bus Inspections

(Courtesy Hawker Beechcraft)

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?"

Schweich says they asked the Patrol for an analysis into why a new plane was needed, but were not provided one.

"We asked for an analysis of why a new plane rather than a used plane, and there was no analysis," Schweich said.  "They said they needed a new plane for elected officials, but there's really only one elected official that uses the plane, and that's the Governor."

MSHP officials disagree, saying they conducted a thorough analysis of the needs and usage of a new airplane before making the purchase.  Records obtained by The Associated Press show that Governor Jay Nixon (D) was the only state official to use the new plane during the first three months of this year.

The audit also recommends that the Highway Patrol closely scrutinize spot inspection results in order to identify state inspection stations that may not be doing a good job of inspecting school buses. Schweich says, though, that the MSHP has done a great job of implementing a list of recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board following a deadly crash involving two school buses in Franklin County in August 2010.

The full audit can be viewed here.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.