Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Funds could come from turnpike

Sebelius to release her plan today of getting money for university repair projects

January 31, 2007


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.


KS 11 years, 4 months ago

I think I am going back to bed. This must be a dream, or rather a nightmare. Has anyone in Topeka thought about reducing some spending. Let;s just stick to the commuters and the people who don't like to fly over fly over country. If you want turnpike money, take over the turnpike. Stay out of their pocket. That road is supposed to be free by now anyway.

lepchun 11 years, 4 months ago

We are going to get stuck no matter what. They will just raise the toll fares........One day there will be no middle class it will be rich and poor.....Guess I will be the poor.

gr 11 years, 4 months ago

Here's one: Let's tax gambling more to pay for smoking problems. Then I suppose we could use smoking taxes to pay for toll roads.

Does anyone know the specifications of when and how the road was supposed to be toll free? Or was it just a thought, but with no bite to stop it - which obviously happened.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 4 months ago

NO. The original purpose was to maintain the turnpike, NOT to create a taxing cash cow. Doing so places the burden of maintaining our universities on a select demographic of individuals rather than all Kansans. A good number of the funds coming from the turnpike come from non-residents (i.e. truckers, motorists). This might be fine if you give all non-residents resident rates at our universities. Otherwise, this is classic have someone else pay the bill. Oh wait, that is classic liberal thought.

riverrat2 11 years, 4 months ago

The Gov. is about to get an education on the KTA.

OnlyTheOne 11 years, 4 months ago

As I recall the Turnpike wasn't like other "toll" roads. There wasn't a promise that it would be paid off and the toll removed. The idea was the toll would continue and be used ONLY to fund Turnpike maintenance and upgrading.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

""We need a dedicated source of revenue," Schodorf said."

That would be called "tuition." This Democrat thing of taxing one activity to fund another, unrelated one, is just maddening.

rollcar 11 years, 4 months ago

I take the turnpike to work every day, and I have no problem paying for the maintenance of it in the form of a toll. It's worth it when you compare the quality of the road to that of I-70 on the Missouri side. And it's fair that I should help pay for it, since I am one of the ones using it.

However, I am not willing to pay more taxes than the average Joe to fund public universities. What does my being a commuter have to do with that?

craigers 11 years, 4 months ago

Maybe our govenor and reps in the state capitol should roll back the last raise they got and donate it to the schools. This would show their dedication to education and if they gave this up, I bet they would make sure that the universities spent the money wisely.

craigers 11 years, 4 months ago

I agree rollcar, Rationalanimal, Godot, and riverrat. Man there is a lot of agreement on this thread. This is crazy.

karmasue 11 years, 4 months ago

As a university employee I can tell you what the governor needs to do is to send consultants in to see how universities waste money. Millions could be funneled elsewhere if job production was evaluated, unpaid leave offered at slow periods of time. Offices are overstaffed to handle peek times when most offices could be staffed with fewer more productive workers. Unemployment offers programs to comensate workers for time not required at work type programs- and yet we refuse to use this program on the state level.

rollcar 11 years, 4 months ago

It all comes down to politics. Sure, universities could operate more efficiently (I am a former KU employee myself), but what politician is going to announce widespread budgetary cuts to public education?

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

I totally blame the universities themselves. They have a fudiciary responsibility to maintain the infrastructure. They have not done that and they have violated those repsonsibilites. The programs are out of control, just like the State and Federal governments. Unfortuantely, there is very little we can do about it.

Hitting up the commuter and visitors in our State is just a liberal way of life. They don't care where the money comes from, as long as it is not out of their pocket. :)

Confrontation 11 years, 4 months ago

karmasue: I have to agree with you on this one! I used to work for the State, and most of the workers are overpaid and underworked. I say most, because there are some that carry everyone else. An extreme amount of money is wasted.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

rollcar wrote, "Sure, universities could operate more efficiently (I am a former KU employee myself), but what politician is going to announce widespread budgetary cuts to public education?"

One who is doing his or her job, rather than playing politics.

Governor Sebelius, care to own your destiny?

411mookie 11 years, 4 months ago

KTA - 50% increase in 8 years - the turnpike runs well enough without the gov' getting in the middle of it. Now it will really have problems when the gov' gets going! DUH!

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

I agree, politicaly speaking this subject boils down to politics. On one side of the political topic you have the political fact that toll roads could be used to gain funds that could be used for a political standpoint. On the other side these funds could be imposed thru taxation or reform.

Any way you look at it political speaking, this issue is completly surrounded by political decisions and speaches on political grounds

janeyb 11 years, 4 months ago

I met three semi's on 40 highway this afternoon between Lecompton turnoff and Big Springs. With the snow they wanted my lane in addition to theirs. Raise the turnpike fees and 40 highway will become the commercial route from Topeka to Lawrence.

Jayhawktriplegrad 11 years, 4 months ago

How about lottery money for education, primary, secondary and university?

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, where has all that money gone?

Tom McCune 11 years, 4 months ago

Any Turnpike historians out there? I'm not sure about this, but I believe the money to build the Turnpike was raised by selling bonds to the public. Those bonds were paid off over time using toll money. When the bonds were paid off, the toll gates were supposed to go away, except for maybe maintenance money. I think that was the promise made to the public in the 1950s.

I was a little kid at the time, but that was the story my dad told me every time we drove the 'Pike back then.

OvRtheRoad 11 years, 4 months ago

Here's the history for you: Although it may have been said at the time, there was actually no basis for the myth that tolls would ever be removed. The original legislation said something like the road would "revert" to "state" control when: 1. the bonds were paid off AND 2. the roadway was in good condition. Any engineer out there can tell you that these 2 things aren't likely to ever happen at the same time. Plus, in order to achieve the latter, more bonds were sold and the cycle continued. That's my version of the history for what it's worth! It's a good example of a hard lesson we're learning now: If you build it, you must have a revenue source for maintaining it.

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