North Carolina's governor canceled the state's planned purchase of a $9 million passenger jet and officials asked the plane's manufacturer to return a $250,000 deposit.
Gov. Mike Easley ordered the cancellation after reporters inquired about the Cessna Citation jet. Easley this week told state agencies to plan for a 3 percent budget cut.
The state Department of Commerce wanted the eight-passenger jet to haul prospective industrial recruits to sites in North Carolina.
The department currently uses a King Air propeller-driven plane and a helicopter to ferry executives to available development locations. A Citation can cruise at nearly 500 mph, while the King Air cruises around 350 mph and carries nine passengers, according to manufacturer Web sites.
“A plane is not necessary,” said Easley spokeswoman Sherry Johnson. “It's not going to be purchased in this economy.”
Legislators included money to buy the jet in last year's state budget, but officials didn't sign a contract until summer.
The purchase by Democrat Easley's administration attracted criticism from Republicans.
“If it was wrong when the media found about it, it was wrong before the media found out about it,” said Jack Hawke, an adviser to GOP gubernatorial candidate and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory. “It's part of the culture of secrecy that covers up these things and wastes taxpayer dollars.”