Expanding Florida’s Friendly Skies To Include Fleet For State Leaders

Expanding Florida’s Friendly Skies To Include Fleet For State Leaders

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — Florida skies could soon become a friendlier way to travel for more than just the governor.

Three years after the state purchased an airplane for Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Senate is moving forward with a $31.3 million plan to add two planes to transport other state leaders on a first-come, first-served basis. DeSantis’ wealthy predecessor, former Gov. Rick Scott, had sold the state’s fleet and used his own jet.

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Without comment, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved the proposal (SPB 2512) to expand the fleet.

Sen. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who chairs the Agriculture, Environment, and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, said state leaders need to travel across the state. He called the proposal a “thoughtful approach” as the Senate and House prepare to negotiate a final budget for the fiscal year that will start July 1.

“You’ll remember that then-Gov. Scott sold those aircraft because we were going through the Great Recession. And now we’ve had the blessing of a really robust economy,” said Albritton, who is positioned to become Senate president in November 2024. “So, now’s a good time for us to be able to get back to a place where our elected officials have more accessibility directly into Florida and be able to have more contact with constituents. If you’ve ever driven from Pensacola to Key West, It’s a challenge.”

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Under the proposal, the $15.5 million Cessna Citation Latitude, approved during the 2019 legislative session would remain the exclusive domain of the governor’s travels.

One of the new aircraft would be available to the lieutenant governor, Cabinet officers and members of the Florida Supreme Court.

The other new plane could be used by the House speaker, Senate president and chairs of legislative standing committees, along with secretaries and executive directors of executive branch departments and chairs of the Florida Gaming Control Commission, the Public Service Commission and the Florida Commission on Offender Review.

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(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner contributed to this report.)

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