You gotta read today’s story in the Dayton Daily News. According to it’s review of the first 81 days in the Kasich Administration, the Governor has already flown in State planes as much as Ted Strickland did his entire first year. And the Governor’s use of State planes are filled with excesses:
Gov. John Kasich’s entourage for a 144-mile trip from Columbus to Cleveland last month was so large his office used two state-owned planes to transport the group, costing taxpayers $2,199.50.
In his first 81 days in office, the Republican Kasich used the Hawker-Beechcraft King Air planes for 16 in-state trips and four out-of-state treks at a total cost of $31,400. By comparison, former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland spent $31,849 on plane travel during his first 13 months in office.
And lil’ Johnny doesn’t like getting wet, apparently:
After Kasich made an off-the-cuff remark to his personal aide about the lack of umbrellas in the pouring rain on the tarmac, Ohio Department of Transportation staff spent $424.80 at Dick’s Sporting Goods for 20 umbrellas to be stashed on the passenger planes — a purchase they are now reconsidering.
“I’ve told them to take all of them back,” Kasich said.
Here’s the Administration’s defense of Kasich’s heavy use of State planes:
“The lesson of the loss of NCR and its 1,600 jobs is that keeping — and growing — jobs and companies in Ohio requires a governor with the initiative to get out of the Statehouse, go meet face-to-face with leaders across the state to see what they need to be successful and then work to help them hire more Ohioans. If the trade-off for that degree of personal engagement and the jobs it seeks to create for our communities is some sniping that the governor gets around the state too much, we’re comfortable with it.”—Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols
Nichols is a complete hypocrite. When he was the spokesman for the Kasich campaign he attacked Governor Strickland’s use of the State plane going so far as to suggest that the Governor had no use for one.
Except, of course, none of the trips had anything to do with keeping businesses in Ohio or meeting with them to discuss one-on-one how to expand. It all had to do with promoting John Kasich’s agenda:
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.
You’ve read that right. John Kasich would use the the State plane simple to make staff announcements. Having attacked Strickland for using a state plane at all, now, he’s saying it’s vital to Ohio’s economy that the Governor have a plane at taxpayers expense so he can make a staff announcement from Youngstown as opposed from Columbus.
What’s this costing taxpayers?
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.
The reality is that Kasich has been using the State’s plane to barnstorm the State with the same intensity of a gubernatorial campaign to promote his agenda. There is no reason to fly across Ohio to simply make a staff announcement except for politics: Kasich hopes to get more favorable local coverage by appearing in person there, thus boasting his profile and likeability, than if he did as his predecessors did and just issue a press release or do an over-the-phone interview or conference about it.
And the sad thing is, we’re spending nearly $400 a day for him to fly around the State selling an agenda we aren’t buying. (And I’m pretty sure that flight to Cleveland after the budget was revealed was simply so Kasich could sit down with the Plain Dealer’s editorial board.) $400 a day for a guy with his approval ratings in 30s. I guess it leaves you to wonder what it would be if he didn’t do all this traveling.