This post was originally published on the Public Notice: Bankrupting America Blog.
Marshalling a NASCAR race and flying to an Apple Festival provide “essential services” to the citizens of Virginia, at least according to Gov. Robert McDonnell’s recent use of state planes.
As reported by The Washington Post, Gov. McDonnell traveled 140 days during his first 17 months in office, making use of two state-owned planes and four helicopters. This cost Virginians more than $228,000 – far more than the Governor’s annual salary of $175,000.
While his daughter must have enjoyed being crowned queen of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, it may be a stretch to claim that such a trip provided “essential services” to Virginians. Such is the limitation placed on state travel funds by the VA Department of Accounts (DOA), which further prohibits spending to “accommodate personal comfort, convenience, and taste.”
With $1,600 spent on the flight to the NASCAR race, constituents may question if a drive down Virginia’s interstate highways would have sufficed instead. The same could be said for the $9,000 spent last year for the five flights between Richmond and Washington, a two-hour drive.
All told, the state has spent $12 million on planes alone for the governor’s use. At a time when families are tightening their budgets, Gov. McDonnell should set an example by limiting his flights to only the most critical circumstances.