If we take the urban-rural split seriously, the governor should flyState Sen. Randy Miller wants to sell the Oregon State Police plane that is used to move the governor around the state in addition to moving law enforcement officers on urgent missions. As Harry Esteve reported in Monday's edition of The Oregonian, Miller's decision is part of a microscopic approach to budget cutting.
State-owned aircraft present an alluring target for budget-cutting. Especially in an era when a broad swath of the electorate is comfortable with lopping weeks off the school year and displacing the indigent elderly. But all expenditures should be viewed in the larger context. In other words, if we give our children less educational opportunity, we will eventually breed a population that is measurably more ignorant than what came before it.
The governor's ability to move around the state is not inconsequential. Oregon is a vast expanse. Driving from the easternmost corner to the westernmost takes as much as 10 hours. Time is money, and the governor's time is one of the scarcest resources in state government. Moreover, our state government is an $11 billion enterprise.
If we take the urban-rural split seriously, we must consider a governor's need to visit outlying regions in a manner that is time-efficient. We've got a governor who is taking seriously the need to heal that rift. He demonstrated it by having inaugural events well outside of the Portland-Salem corridor.
Let's not be foolish by selling off this aircraft.