Stringer, Bryant agree on airplane transaction

JACKSON — When new Gov. Phil Bryant announced during the presentation of his budget proposal Tuesday that he wanted to sell one of the two airplanes owned by the state for the use of state officials, one person could be heard in the back of the room clapping.

It was former House Appropriations Chair Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, who with Republicans now in charge of the House does not carry the same clout in the lower chamber.

During his tenure as Appropriations chair, Stringer tried several times to sell one of the two aircrafts, the jet owned by the state. As lieutenant governor and the presiding officer in the Senate, Bryant never publicly supported Stringer in the effort.

Then-Republican Gov. Haley Barbour opposed selling the plane. In announcing he wanted to sell the plane, Bryant said he was not trying to make a political statement, but was doing what he thought was right.

He said the transaction should net about $2 million for the state and save the cost paid by the state for maintenance and pilots for the aircraft. Bryant said if he needs a jet the state can lease one or if the time can be worked out he can fly commercial.