FARGO, ND – President Dean Bresciani spoke up today for the second time to defend his frequent use of the university’s King Air B200, for which the school is paying over $3.22 million to purchase. Annually, NDSU pays over $550,000 a year for leasing and operating costs.
When PlainsDaily first reported on the high costs of Bresciani’s plane use in March – almost six moths ago – an NDSU spokesperson defended the president’s plane travel by telling PlainsDaily:
The time needed to drive between Fargo and Bismarck “would be an inefficient use of his [President Bresciani's] time. When asked if he is aware of the high cost of flying a private plane rather than driving, Bresciani’s media advisor replied simply, “The president is aware that it is in the best interest of the state and the university to use funds in the most efficient way possible.”
The remark drew criticism from many sources, including the ND Policy Council’s Director Brett Narloch, who commented: “If they’re using taxpayer dollars to fly across the state to lobby for more taxpayer dollars so they can continue to fly in airplanes, then we have a problem.”
Today, Forum Communications’ Amy Dalrymple reports that Bresciani is still saying the same line, “We use the plane as both a time and cost-efficiency mechanism.” According to the article, Bresciani has now begun making arrangements to include the school’s plane in a charter pool, “so companies could rent the plane from NDSU” to help defray the significant expense.
Bresciani continued defending the school’s purchase and use of the twin engine plane, saying that many research universities have them and that it would be “inefficient both in terms of cost and time-wise to have a president car-bound for most of the workday simply to get to and from a meeting.”
When Bresciani traveled to Bismarck for the all day August 30 Higher Education Committee meeting, rather than driving out after work the night before and driving back after the conclusion of the meeting, Bresciani flew out to Bismarck at 7:13am and left to return to Fargo at 4:50pm.
The very next day, August 31, he took the plane back to Bismarck at 7:30am and returned again to Fargo a little before 2pm.
The NDSU plane was exempted from a legislative study of state plane usage on the grounds that NDSU did not own the plane. However, since PlainsDaily has shown that the university is in fact in the process of purchasing the plane through a private financing company, Chairman Jeff Delzer said that the committee may consider including the NDSU plane and its cost-effectiveness back into the study.
Under former Governor Ed Schafer, the policy was that state planes were not used for transportation purposes unless travel time to the location exceeded four hours.