Archive for Friday, May 17, 2002

House OKs transportation legislation

May 17, 2002


— The House approved a bill Thursday that represented legislators' attempt to shore up the state's 1999 comprehensive transportation program.

The 64-57 vote sent the measure to Gov. Bill Graves. The compromise proposal was drafted by legislative negotiators to raise $338 million over the next seven years.

The Senate approved the bill Wednesday, 22-17.

As approved, motor fuel taxes would increase 2 cents on July 1, to 23 cents per gallon for gasoline and 25 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.

Supporters said the bill was a chance for legislators to keep a promise to Kansans to improve the safety of highways, while providing economic stimulus through construction spending.

Rep. Ralph Tanner, R-Baldwin, said the package was needed to guarantee improvements to the 30-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 59 from Ottawa to Lawrence. He said the "bloody road" was the scene of numerous fatalities because of poor sight lines and traffic counts.

"I need to have your vote on this measure so we can correct this problem," Tanner said.

In addition to increased fuel taxes, registration fees for most cars would increase $5, to $30.

Highway, airport and shortline railroad improvement projects are funded separately from general government services under the law creating the 10-year, $13.6 billion transportation program.

Many legislators worry that the program won't have enough money to finance all the projects the state has promised because lawmakers have diverted money for general government programs in recent years.

The shortfall in transportation could have topped $1 billion in its remaining seven years if lawmakers hadn't acted.

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