Scott Tibbs
Published by the Hoosier Project, 06-19-2001

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O'Bannon's plane purchase shows irresponsibility

Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon has just authorized spending nearly one million dollars per year on a new airplane, and Hoosier taxpayers aren't happy with footing the bill. The plane, a B200 turboprop, is widely described as "the Rolls Royce of the air".

At a time when our Governor is urging more responsible spending by state government, spending $3,738,000 over four years on a luxury aircraft smacks of hypocrisy. Perhaps the state does need another method of providing transportation for the Governor and others, but there is no reason the state has to spend lavishly on this plane when they could have been more fiscally responsible in purchasing a less expensive model. And why can't state government simply use automobiles for travel purposes, if the state fleet is in as poor shape as the O'Bannon administration says it is?

The ironic thing about this purchase is that it comes so soon after O'Bannon vetoed a pay raise for legislators, calling it "irresponsible". I guess it's not irresponsible to fly the Governor, other elected officials, and visiting dignitaries in such a plush airplane. Extra money for legislator salaries is irresponsible, but Hoosier taxpayers are expected to part with almost $4 million so the Governor can be comfortable.

Republican leaders such as Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton and Indiana Republican Party Chairman Mike McDaniel have questioned the wisdom of purchasing this plane while O'Bannon vetoed bills expanding health care for low-income Hoosiers. Whatever one thinks of expanding state poor relief programs, it's simply common sense that lending a helping hand to those who need it most benefits Hoosiers far more than a extravagant aircraft.

O'Bannon's defenders talk about how an aircraft is needed to fly long distances. But had David McIntosh won in November and approved this same expenditure while vetoing help for the poor, those same people would be howling over Republican arrogance and how the GOP is more concerned with the rich than with the needs of the indigent.

Frank O'Bannon talks a good game, but it has been under his and House Speaker John Gregg's leadership that the budget surplus Indiana enjoyed before he took office has been replaced with a massive deficit. O'Bannon has also been MIA on real property tax reform and the need for an Interstate Highway in southern Indiana. O'Bannon has also not addressed Indiana's shamefully low ranking in the education of Hoosier children. But that's OK, at least he has his plane.