Five proposals are floating around Springfield trying to at least partially ground the state’s fleet of airplanes and helicopters.The state-owned air fleet is targeted every year there’s a budget deficit. This year is no exception as several lawmakers, all Republican, have filed legislation to ground or sell the air fleet.
State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) is one of them. She says it looks bad when lawmakers are carried around on small jets while the state budget suffers.
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“It’s kind of a slap in the face that legislators are being flown back and forth to session when it’s very costly and they typically could drive,” she says. Rezin wants to maintain some of the fleet in case of emergencies.
Proponents of state-owned aircraft say it actually saves money when ten lawmakers take a plane to and from Springfield for session, instead of paying ten people for mileage reimbursement.
The measures pending are Senate Bills 3559 and 1569, and House Bills 1411, 2983 and 4019. The sponsor of H.B. 2983, State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford), says some measures will likely be combined or tweaked as the session moves forward.
Rezin says grounding the state air fleet would save about $8 million per year which, she admits, is a drop in the bucket.