LANSING — State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) saw his amendments to sell airplanes in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s  (MDOT) fleet and prohibit legislators from having their offices in the same building as a lobbying firm defeated today by House Republicans. Dianda offered the amendments to the omnibus budget bill, House Bill 5294.

“I am appalled that state taxpayers will still have to pay for a fleet of five airplanes and pay for office space for state senators that is in the same building as a large Lansing lobbying firm,” said Dianda. “Selling a few airplanes would have freed up money for other things. The Michigan Senate’s move into the Capitol View building a few floors down from lobbyists will only feed the distrust too many Michiganders already have of their elected officials.”

A 2012 fleet study of MDOT’s airplanes showed that they have an individual worth from $200,000 to more than $1 million. The planes are used by MDOT employees as well as employees from other state departments. If planes are sold, the money from the sale would go into the State Aeronautics Fund, which funds improvements at airports.

The Capitol View project came about when the Michigan Senate decided to relocate to new offices instead of remodeling the building they already owned and had been in for years.  The developer behind the Capitol View project is a well-connected GOP donor who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and Republican-aligned political organizations. Dianda has officially requested that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette investigate the Senate’s deal for the Capitol View offices.  

“Like my constituents in the U.P., I am baffled as to why MDOT needs all the airplanes it has, and why the Senate and the House Republicans think it’s a good idea to share an office building with a lobbying firm,” said Dianda. “My constituents sent me to Lansing to be their voice and to make common-sense decisions about spending their tax dollars. There’s no common sense in a fleet of airplanes or a lobbyist having quicker and easier access to a legislator than a constituent. I’m sorry that House Republicans couldn’t understand the serious problems that my amendments would have fixed.”