Archive for Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Legislators: New transportation plan hinges on state finances

September 29, 2009

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— Lawmakers on Tuesday said they want to get a better look at the state financial picture before recommending a new transportation plan.

“We’ve got to start somewhere,” said state Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, and chair of a Special Transportation Committee.

Umbarger said a subcommittee of the panel would meet to try to devise funding plans for future highway projects.

Then the full committee could consider those recommendations after state budget experts make a new revenue estimate in November, he said.

Transportation advocates are pushing for a new comprehensive plan because the 10-year, $13 billion plan that was adopted in 1999 is winding down.

But budget problems this year have forced lawmakers to cut nearly every area of state government, including schools, public safety, social services and higher education.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, and a member of the committee, said approval of a new transportation plan “hinges on the economic situation.”

Davis added, “We need to have a new transportation plan but I think we’re going to discuss size and whether the Legislature has the stomach to fund it.”

A task force earlier recommended traditional funding sources, such as increases in the motor fuels tax, registration fees and more borrowing.

State Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said consumers probably would not notice a small increase in the 24-cent per gallon gas tax.

On Monday, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for more highway spending, said Kansas needed to spend about $6.4 billion during the next 10 years to take care of increased traffic, safety concerns and deteriorating bridges. In addition to that, Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller said the state needs about $375 million a year to maintain its existing road system.

Comments

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 9 months ago

Funny how when the Regents say they need $17 million next year it is met with laughter and mockery but when the highway supporters say they need $6.4 billion with a b everybody lines up to support them.

Most businesses aren't looking for new roads, they are looking for new employees. If you can't provide businesses with top quality employees, eventually they will go someplace that will.

And they will get there by driving out of state on your brand new roads.

Lacy Mohler 5 years, 9 months ago

With predictions of $200/barrel crude oil in the next few years I wonder if increased traffic will really be a problem? The new revenue estimate in November isn't going to be pretty. Maintaining existing roads will be the game plan.

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