Could turnpike tolls be used to pay for repairs at public universities?
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today will release her long-awaited plan to fund a backlog of maintenance projects at Kansas Board of Regents universities, and some lawmakers think the proposal may rely on an increase in Kansas Turnpike tolls.
State Rep. Jason Watkins, R-Wichita, introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit the use of increased tolls to pay for university repairs.
"Tolls maintain the turnpike," Watkins said. He said large toll increases would force commercial traffic off the turnpike and reduce revenue for the roadway.
Turnpike officials declined to comment, referring calls to Sebelius' office.
Sebelius' office has remained mum. In her State of the State speech Jan. 10, Sebelius said that by the end of January she would present a "multiyear plan" to address deferred maintenance.
The six regents universities have said they have a backlog of about
$660 million in needed repairs, many of which are critical to the schools' operations.
Community colleges have weighed in with a list of $150 million worth of maintenance.
Sen. Jean Kurtis Schodorf, R-Wichita, and chairwoman of a task force looking at the problem, said she had no idea how Sebelius would propose to pay for the repairs.
"We need a dedicated source of revenue," Schodorf said.