|Ohio Gov. Kasich Flies High In State Plane|
By Don Potts
Bellwether ContributorCINCINNATI (TDB) -- Gov. John Kasich's liberal use of state planes -- even for mundane matters -- makes for some high-flying travel habits that land hard on the taxpayers. Last week, The Columbus Dispatch added to a story that has been building throughout the year about Republican Kasich’s flight path. As duly elected heads of state, governors have the ability to use every resource available to them to conduct state business. However, using those resources when you campaigned against your predecessor for using the same benefits seems like bad form. During the campaign for governor last year, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols raised a fuss about Ted Strickland:
But because [Strickland] likes hitting the snooze button, he makes a small army of people fire up his plane, get it ready and then fly it from one airport to another so he won’t have to drive an extra 15 minutes to the airport. … Putting aside the wasted money and extra wear and tear, could the guy do something more arrogant? … Frankly, there needs to be a closer review of whether the plane’s cost can even still be justified at all.Ok, let’s put this into some context. The Kasich campaign was concerned about former Democratic Gov, Strickland's decision to move the plane from one airport to another in Columbus to make it more convenient. Nice as a sound byte but not unusual as Bob Taft chose to do this as well. What is much more important is the actual price paid by the taxpayers of Ohio. According to the Dispatch:
However, as governor, Kasich flew on state aircraft 46 times from Jan. 10 through August of this year at a cost to taxpayers of $60,320.50, according to the latest-available records provided to The Dispatch. In all of last year, Strickland used the state’s planes 17 times at a cost of $27.188.22.
It’s funny how election results can change your perspective. Once you have a perk you fought against you need to justify its existence:
We wished (Strickland) had used the plane more,” Rob Nichols told The Dispatch last week, arguing that flying has enabled Kasich to cover more ground and make more meetings that either lead to new jobs or allow him to make his case to Ohioans for reforming government.
Oh really? All those trips were about jobs or reforming government? Not so much:
A Dayton Daily News examination of the governor’s travel found he used the planes to fly to Portsmouth, where he comforted parents who lost their children to prescription drug overdoses; to Canton and Cincinnati, where he held press conferences to announce staff appointments; to Toledo, Youngstown and Akron, where he spoke to chambers of commerce or Rotary Clubs; and to Washington, D.C., where he dined at the White House with other governors.
On a daily rate, Ohio is spending $387.65 for Kasich’s state-plane use compared with $201.75 for Taft and $77.58 for Strickland.Why even bother owning planes for official use? Columbus is about two hours from every corner of the state. Recently the Governor flew from Columbus to Mason for an announcement. Last time I checked that drive was a maximum of 90 minutes if you stop for a bite to eat. What makes it worse is that his security detail actually DRIVES the Governor’s Suburban down to meet him at his destination. Hey John, why don’t you ride in the car? By the time you get to the airport, take off and flying time, what is the plane actually saving you? Twenty minutes? Half an hour? Even better, it would be nice to have high speed passenger trains running from Cincinnati thru Columbus to Cleveland but the Governor killed that proposal. Who needs a train when you can use a state owned plane as your personal taxi service?
In the grand scheme of things the cost of state plane is small potatoes. What is of importance is that Gov. Kasich has no recollection of how he got here. Once in place, his concern has been to maximize the benefits to himself while disparaging some of the people who put him in office, or pay the bills for everything, including state aircraft. He’s taken on firefighters, police officers, teachers and looked to slash benefits for the working class. John Kasich isn’t governing for Ohio, John Kasich is all about John Kasich.