The following release is from the Office of Senator Mark Blasdel.
Senator Mark Blasdel and Representatives Ryan Osmundson and Brad Tschida announced today they will introduce a bill in the 2017 Legislative session that ends the use of the state plane to campaign on the taxpayers’ dime and prohibits the use of the state plane to attend official state events within short distances of Helena.
The End State Plane Abuse Act: (1) Prohibits the use of the State plane when official state and campaign events are scheduled during the same trip; and (2) Prohibits the use of the State plane when an official state event takes place within 120 miles of Helena. The bill will include an exemption for using the State plane in case of an emergency.
The legislators believe this bill is now necessary given that even after Governor Bullock admitted to wrong doing, he continues to use the State plane to attend campaign fundraisers and is still shortchanging taxpayers by tens of thousands of dollars.
Bullock has refused to reimburse taxpayers for the full costs of the State plane, paying only for the extra costs associated with the pilots– who make $20-30 per hour– and not paying for the actual use of the state plane, which costs $1,650 per hour.
Over the last week and a half, Bullock has piggybacked “Birthday Party” fundraisers– onto official state business trips. After fundraisers were held in Billings, Kalispell, and Bozeman, Bullock caught a ride back home on the state plane.
The Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government looked into Bullock’s use of the State plane during the 2015 Legislative session after it was revealed he extensively traveled on the state plane to locations that were within close proximity of Helena.