Seven Days' Off Message reports an embarrassing but not a surprising oversight: Governor Shumlin failed to reimburse taxpayers for part of a day-long series of flights on Vermont’s state-owned airplane that directly involved his re-election campaign. The entire day of the Governor’s barnstorming around the state cost $322.76, while a whole $65.80 was charged to his campaign for the electioneering portion of the trip.
But the real news for me lands toward the end of the Seven Days article: a plan has been under consideration for the state to spend $117,600 per year over the next ten years on a new Beechcraft Baron airplane to replace the Cessna currently in use.
The state-owned airplane has been the subject of some discussion in the Statehouse for the past week-and-a-half, since lawmakers caught wind of a budget request from the AOT [Agency of Transportation] to replace the 1962 Cessna with a 2013 Beechcraft Baron.
Given the administration’s ongoing cutting, juggling and general budget skimping, Governor Shumlin is downplaying that little budget item for the time being.
At a press conference last Thursday good Ol’ Governor Shumlin made a point that by the AOT’s reckoning the new plane purchase would have to happen “someday,” and the aging Cessna would have to be dealt with. Shumlin admitted,
“We don't have to do it this year, but at some point we're going to have to deal with it …”
Aw Shucks Shumlin continued in his new, meant-to-be-reassuring just-plain-beer way, stressing that he didn’t mind the ol’ Cessna ‘cause:
“You know, I don't have the fear gene, so I'm alright […]”
But still, Ol’ Governor Aw Shucks Shumlin managed to point out that, you know, a door did pop open once, and the gas gauge is a bit finicky (although it does seem to respond to a good Gubernatorial thumping), and you know, he doesn’t mind but gosh [!] his staff gets sooo nervous whenever he uses that ol’ state airplane.
Of course, if Aw Shucks were really the “regular Vermonter” he pretends to be, he’d be paying attention to the way the rest of us live, as in the old Vermont saying Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without.
And then there is the more recent Vermont adage: Don’t buy a new airplane for the state until you raise taxes on them that can afford to pay ’em.