Topeka Gov. Bill Graves on Monday rejected funding to renovate a downtown office building that the state recently purchased.
The state bought the Security Benefit Life Insurance Co. building for about $18.5 million and planned to spend nearly $16 million to renovate it. The Kansas Department of Transportation was scheduled to move into the building by spring 2003.
For the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, KDOT had planned to spend $11.5 million for renovation of the 14-story building, which is just a couple of blocks from the Capitol.
But in a surprise move, Graves rejected the expense.
"He just doesn't think it's necessary at this time," said Duane Goossen, Graves' budget director.
And Goossen said there would be a lot of discussion during the legislative session about which state agency moves into the building.
But Secretary of Administration Dan Stanley said KDOT would occupy the building, and that the lack of funding for renovation won't delay its move.
Stanley said some renovation is necessary but not as much as had been proposed by KDOT.
"They could move in without a big renovation," Stanley said.
Officials from KDOT declined to comment.
After the purchase of the building, some lawmakers had questioned the renovation expense, and a proposal to build a $3.6 million tunnel from the building to the Capitol.
In addition, a state audit had questioned the purchase of the Security Benefit building and the construction of two other state office buildings in downtown Topeka.
The audit stated that written documentation showing the justification for the moves was nonexistent.