TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday authorized the sale of two state airplanes to out-of-state bidders for a total of nearly $3.7 million, fulfilling a campaign promise.
The two aircraft, a leased 2003 Cessna Citation Bravo and a smaller, state-owned 2000 King Air, transported governors, Cabinet members, key legislators and other top officials and in some cases family members, resulting in a string of controversies.
As a candidate last year, Scott vowed that if elected he would ditch the two aircraft as a waste of taxpayers' money, and he ordered them sold the day he took office, Jan. 4. The wealthy governor owns his own jet to fly him on official business.
Scott said the sale will net the state a savings this year of more than $560,000, while eliminating annual operating and leasing costs of $2.4 million. But as the state still owes $3.4 million in lease payments on the Cessna, combined profit on the sales will be modest.
A Mexican-American oil-field services firm, Transportes Internacionales Tamaulipecos, bid $1.9 million for the Cessna jet, and the nine-passenger King Air prop plane brought a bid of $1.77 million from JNC Aircraft Sales of Washington, D.C.
"Burdening taxpayers with these ongoing expenses is irresponsible and not a core function for government to meet the state's critical needs," Scott said in a statement Friday.
Selling the planes also has eliminated 11 full-time jobs of pilots and support personnel.
The Department of Management Services said that once the successful bidders wire the money to the state, they can take possession of the planes.
Scott has continued to cite the sale of the planes to friendly audiences, most recently at a tea party rally Monday in Eustis where he presented his budget recommendations.
Then-Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, then-Attorney General Bill McCollum and then-Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink all faced criticism last year in statewide political campaigns for their extensive use of the planes. Ethics complaints against all three officials were dismissed.
Information from the News Service of Florida was used in this report. Steve Bousquet can be reached at email@example.com or (850) 224-7263.