LINCOLN — The state's plans to buy a 12-year-old airplane for Gov. Dave Heineman's use remained up in the air Wednesday.
Although a leading critic of the purchase has decided not to fight the $2.2 million expense, State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha said he will try to block it.
Chambers called the proposed purchase of the twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air B200 from the University of Nebraska Foundation an “unwise decision.”
He plans to offer the amendment on a later bill in the state budget package. Debate about the package began Tuesday and continued Wednesday morning.
Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, a pilot himself, said Wednesday he believes an independent analysis would conclude that the best option for the state would be purchasing a brand-new plane with several years of life and a warranty.
But he said Tuesday he will not “fall on my sword” to fight the governor's request for the existing aircraft.
“I think if that's what the governor wants, that's what the governor's going to get,” Krist said.
He offered, then withdrew, an amendment requiring the state to set up a maintenance fund and a replacement fund for the aircraft.
The amendment was one of five changes proposed to the budget package advanced by the Appropriations Committee.
Debate Wednesday touched on several [Note] different [/NOTE] topics, including a bill making changes in the state school aid formula to reduce the total cost of state aid.
Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff, an Appropriations Committee member, urged his colleagues to support the budget package.
“This budget is really setting a course for where we're going to go in the next two years as a state,” he said. “Just remember what the goal is: The goal is to move Nebraska forward.”
Another committee member, Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion, said the package spends a little more than makes him comfortable. But, overall, he said, it will accomplish what is needed to run the state.
The budget package proposes spending $7.8 billion of state general funds over the two years beginning July 1, an average annual increase of 5.2 percent.
None of the proposed changes in the package came up Tuesday.
The other proposed changes are:
» Reduce funding for the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties by $150,000.
» Defund a planned $150,000 study of climate change.
» Eliminate $6 million in funding for renovation of the Nebraska State Historical Society's museum in Lincoln.
» Strike the proposed $250,000 per year increase in funding for nurses to visit at-risk mothers.
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