Kathleen Sebelius is the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services in Obama's Cabinet. She has served as Kansas' governor since 2002 and before that was insurance commissioner and a state representative.
Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday kicked off the start of the next transportation program by assigning a task force and shutting the door to any increase in the motor fuels tax.
"With current fuel prices at all-time highs I cannot support any increase in motor fuel taxes and ask that the task force look to other approaches," Sebelius said in her charge to the new group.
Instead, Sebelius said, the 30-member task force should look at new financing methods that will rely more on leveraging federal, state and local funding and user fees.
"The state will be best served if the task force reviews a range of transportation investment scenarios and considers approaches that could be implemented in stages if necessary," she said.
With those instructions, it appears the proposed transportation program will look different from the current $13 billion, 10-year program that ends soon, and the 10-year program previous to that. Both of those programs relied on increasing motor fuels and sales taxes and borrowing.
The task force - officially called Transportation-Leveraging Investments in Kansas, or T-LINK - includes a who's who of transportation officials. It will be chaired by Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller and Tim Rogers, chairman of the Salina Airport Authority.
"The nation is at a transitional point in regard to transportation policy, and it is crucial that Kansas be in a position to take advantage of changes that are coming," said Miller.
Representatives of the trucking and road construction industries, in addition to numerous political and economic development officials will serve on the task force. Patricia Weaver, executive director of the Kansas University Transportation Center has also been appointed.
The task force will hold its first meeting Aug. 27 in Topeka and then has scheduled public meetings in September in Ulysses, Hays, Hutchinson and Abilene.
By mid-September, a task force Web site will have an interactive calculator that will allow participants to develop their own Kansas transportation program and determine its costs and funding options.