TOPEKA A Senate committee today cleared the way for state leaders to vote on borrowing $210 million to ensure that promised highway projects are completed.
The decision by the Transportation Committee was unanimous but several lawmakers expressed concern about the state's mounting debt.
"We are putting ourselves in critical shape," Sen. Peggy Palmer, R-Augusta, said. The extra debt would be a burden "on our grandchildren," she said.
But Sen. Phillip Journey, R-Haysville, said financing long-term projects with bonds was appropriate because "the assets created will be used by our grandchildren."
Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe, blamed Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for the need to borrow the funds.
"I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the governor," she said.
But Transportation Secretary Deb Miller said previous diversions of funds from the highway plan were needed when the state was rocked by hard economic times.
"I think that's inaccurate," Miller said when asked about O'Connor's comments.
The proposal now goes to the State Finance Council, which is chaired by Sebelius. If approved by the council on Thursday, the bonds will be put on the market in March.
Secretary Miller said the bonds were needed to refinance the 10-year, $13.5 billion transportation plan initially approved in 1999.