LINCOLN — It's up, up and away for a new state airplane.
The Legislature's Appropriations Committee reversed course Tuesday on plans to buy a 12-year-old Beechcraft Super King Air B200 from the University of Nebraska Foundation.
After rejecting the idea two weeks ago, committee members voted 5-3 to put $2.2 million in the state budget for the plane.
State Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha, the committee chairman, said the money would come from the cash reserve fund.
“It was a priority of the governor's,” he said. “It's slated to be in the budget plan.”
Gov. Dave Heineman said last week that the plane was necessary for him to continue visiting rural parts of Nebraska. He criticized Omaha and Lincoln senators for voting against the purchase.
Committee members had argued that the governor has several options for air travel, including chartering aircraft or using the state's other passenger plane, a 1982 Piper Cheyenne.
Administration officials said a state-owned plane would be more cost-effective than chartering and the King Air 200 would be more reliable than the Cheyenne.
Heineman and state agencies currently lease the King Air 200 for trips around the state. Although owned by the foundation, the aircraft is flown and maintained by the state Aeronautics Department.
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