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A new State Auditor’s report finds that the use of state planes has cost taxpayers $1.4 million from May 2007 to May 2008. For example, a flight from Austin to Dallas cost $990 a person that would have been $248 roundtrip on Southwest with no advance purchase.

The Texas Department of Transportation notes most flights shuttle state officials between cities that lack commercial air service. While TXDOT says its agrees with some of the Auditor’s recommendations for curtailing costs, and has already begun charging state agencies more for their use, TXDOT is also asking for a new fleet.

No so fast says Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving), a taxpayer champion who is proposing phasing out the planes. The budget next session will likely determine if even more money flies away or whether change is on the horizon.

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