TOPEKA – State records show Rep. Virgil Peck of Montgomery County used a state-owned plane to fly from southeast Kansas to Topeka and back to vote in one day so he could vote on a new school finance bill.
Peck was flown from Coffeyville to Topeka on March 13 as he sought to vote on implementing block grant funding for the state’s schools. He arrived in Topeka too late for his vote to change the outcome and flew back to Coffeyville, according to Kansas Highway Patrol logs obtained by the Lawrence Journal-World.
Peck, a Republican from Montgomery County, went home March 12 to attend several events in Coffeyville and Independence with Gov. Sam Brownback. The next day, the House voted on final passage of a bill that replaced the previous school finance formula and with block-grant funding for the next two years. The bill received 62 votes, one short of the 63 needed to pass.
Three representatives who supported the bill, including Peck, were not present, prompting a “call of the House” that held the roll call open for two hours to give the representatives time to vote.
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“I could have left in my car,” Peck said. “It would have taken three hours. I was told to wait for the plane.”
The logs show the plane left Coffeyville with Peck as a passenger and landed in Topeka by 10:15 a.m. By that time, the two other absent lawmakers had returned and voted for the bill, passing it 64-57.
The plane left Topeka at 11:06 a.m., according to the flight logs, to fly back to Coffeyville. Peck was listed as the only passenger on each leg of those flights.
Brownback’s press secretary Eileen Hawley estimated the cost of each flight was $205. She said the patrol, which owns and operates the plane, typically sends a bill to the governor’s office for such flights.