The subject of a press release below from State Rep. Kent Gaffney may see no more the light of day than this article will provide, but it is aimed at the privileged few who are not forced to drive to and from Springfield. Those are the legislative leaders, their buddies, the Governor, plus his staff, and other statewide elected officials.
Come to think of it, passage of this bill might do more to encourage the retirement of Speaker Mike Madigan than anything else.
Gaffney: Ground state planes until bill backlog paid off
Illinois spending $7 million annually on $22 million fleet of state aircraft
Springfield, IL… At a cost of $7 million annually, the state fleet of executive aircraft is a luxury Illinois cannot afford.
State Representative Kent Gaffney (R-Lake Barrington) says the $8 billion backlog of unpaid bills hasn’t stopped state officials from flying back and forth to Chicago on the state’s executive aircraft at a cost of $3,000 per hour.
In light of this, Rep. Gaffney believes Illinois should ground its fleet of executive aircraft until the backlog of unpaid bills is paid off.
“The air fleet’s main purpose it to fly the Governor and top state officials round trip from Chicago to Springfield,” Gaffney said.
“Most state officials use their own vehicles to commute to and from the State capitol. With $8 billion in unpaid bills, it is high time we ground the fleet until Illinois gets its fiscal house in order.”
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will spend over $7 million to operate the state fleet of aircraft in the current fiscal year.
In FY 2011, IDOT spent approximately $6 million on the fleet, while spending $5.4 million in FY 2010.
Illinois maintains a fleet of sixteen aircraft, including six executive aircraft, worth an estimated $22 million.
The State pays for daily air shuttles between Chicago and Springfield; back and forth in the morning and the evening.
Representative Gaffney is co-sponsoring legislation to ground the state fleet, with the exception of aircraft used for emergency purposes, until the State has paid off its backlog of bills.
He mentioned that other states do not maintain such a large fleet of aircraft.
“Most states do not have such a large air fleet at their disposal,” said Gaffney. “Last year, New Mexico sold their state jet for $2.5 million; our fleet is worth $22 million. There are plenty of schools and hospitals that could use that money more than government officials looking for a free ride.”
The legislation is House Bill 4019. [The five sponsors are all Republicans. The lead sponsor is Bill Mitchell.]