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FL Budget Chairman: Gov. Scott’s Plane Sales Against The Law

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Rick Scott

Governor Rick Scott (Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – Governor Scott’s campaign promise to sell the state’s planes to fill some of the Sunshine State’s massive budget deficit may have been popular with voters, but one lawmaker says it was illegal.

Scott unloaded the ­­state’s jet and prop plane earlier this month in a deal that netted the Florida $3.7 million.

According to The News Service of Florida, Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, a proponent of the sale, sent a note to Scott applauding his action in getting the planes sold, but criticized how the proceeds were appropriated.

“I support your goal, but not the method,” Alexander wrote. “It is important that the proper procedures for accomplishing a goal we both support be followed.”

Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, says Scott’s office directed the sale of the state’s two airplanes, but used the proceeds from one of the planes to pay off the lease on the second plane. That action, Alexander says, violated Florida law because he spent state money without an appropriation, which is banned by the constitution.

The law is also very specific on what is to be done with money that comes from the sale of state-owned property and prohibits that money from being spent on anything not outlined and agreed upon in the state budget.

“It is my position that you should have sought the approval of the Legislature before undertaking the sale of the state planes and using the proceeds of the sale of Plane One to satisfy the lease
obligation of Plane Two,” Alexander wrote. “My concern, of course, is that these actions may have violated the law and as such fail to recognize the Legislature by not respecting the Legislature’s constitutional duty to appropriate funds and your duty to spend appropriated funds in accordance with the law.”

The governor’s office did not release a statement on Alexander’s letter.

Earlier this month, The Department of Management Services accepted a bid for $1.9 million for the state jet and $1.8 million for the prop plane. It cost the state more than $3,000 an hour, or roughly $2.4 million a year, to operate and maintain the planes.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed material for this report)

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