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Archive for Friday, April 5, 2013

House, Senate send bill to Brownback that would make KDOT secretary in charge of operating turnpike

April 5, 2013

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— After a monthslong battle, Republicans sent to Gov. Sam Brownback a bill that would put Brownback's secretary of transportation in charge of operating the Kansas Turnpike.

Supporters of the bill said it would create efficiencies between the turnpike and Kansas Department of Transportation, while opponents said it was a power grab by Brownback.

Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the effort was aimed at getting rid of KTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Johnston, whom she described as one of the last Democrats in Kansas holding a high-ranking position.

"I personally don't appreciate being asked to be the hatchet person," Kelly said. Brownback's office denied Kelly's assertion.

In his budget, Brownback said bringing KDOT and KTA together would save $30 million over two years, but KDOT Secretary Mike King, a Brownback appointee, told a legislative committee he didn't know where those savings would come from.

Even some allies of Brownback balked at the proposal.

Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, called the Kansas Turnpike the "crown jewel" of the state, and said it was vastly more efficient than any state agency.

"I still think this is a bad bill," Donovan said. "But I understand the train is on the track," he said.

Under the bill, Secretary King would also serve as director of operations of the turnpike and would be responsible for the daily administration of the toll road. The legislation included a provision that tolls from the turnpike could only be used operation of the 236-mile road.

The bill would expire July 1, 2016, which supporters said would give the Legislature time to see if the new system was working well.

Comments

Bob_Keeshan 1 year, 8 months ago

Don't tell the Kansas GOP, but 5 of the last 9 gubernatorial elections in Kansas have been won by Democrats.

Bizarre how they are so hell bent on handing over complete control of state government to an executive office they don't even hold a majority of the time.

Robert Greenwood 1 year, 8 months ago

Complete control is what the right wing Kansas republican bunch is all about. Remember those incumbent former state senators who were purged last year?

newmedia 1 year, 8 months ago

When the Dems elect their next Gov. they will appoint one of their own to head KDOT. Problem solved....

George_Braziller 1 year, 8 months ago

No it isn't solved, just illustrates why putting KTA under KDOT is a bad idea. With possibly a different KDOT Secretary every four years any potential "efficiencies" are lost.

Robert Greenwood 1 year, 8 months ago

"I personally don't appreciate being asked to be the hatchet person,"

Laura many state employees are being hatcheted and the Gov will not be asking anyone, including you. Just watch what continues to happen after you all leave town in May.

And Les many "crown jewels" of Kansas will be trampled beneath this Gov's administration.

Solving problems which don't exist is common. It is called AN AGENDA and it is not good government.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Sam Brownback is BIG GOVERNMENT and about greasing his campaign donation wheels as he turns over state services to private industry backed with OUR TAX DOLLARS.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 8 months ago

"Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the effort was aimed at getting rid of KTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Johnston, whom she described as one of the last Democrats in Kansas holding a high-ranking position."

That pretty well sums up this otherwise purposeless legislation.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 8 months ago

So this is how democracy dies...to thunderous applause.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 8 months ago

Lets hope and pray that Sam Brownback is a one term governor...

Patricia Davis 1 year, 8 months ago

We need more than hope and prayer. We need the people to rise up and oppose.

msezdsit 1 year, 8 months ago

The nannies are coming the nannies are coming. Yikes, they are already here. That little republican government that we all cherish so much and can just put our blind trust in because we know their big government will do gods will.

tomatogrower 1 year, 8 months ago

So, either several major highways will be turned into pay to drive or the turnpike money, meant to keep it a smooth running road will be used to make it look like Brownback's stupid tax cuts didn't hurt Kansas while the turnpike slowly crumbles.

Mark Kostner 1 year, 8 months ago

Now that KDOT has taken the Turnpike over, all or part of it should be made a freeway, especially the I-70 segment and I-35 south of Wichita. The road was never intended to be a toll road this long. I remember when the tolls were extended for a 20 year period, then indefinitely. When you are traveling I-70 cross country you really notice the little segment in Kansas where you pay. The good thing about this transfer is the road didn't get sold or contracted out to a private or foreign company like in some states.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 8 months ago

You are right, the original bonds were paid off decades ago. The problem with your point is that new bonds have been issued to pay for many many capital (ie bridge over kansas river) and technology (ie, KTAG) projects since then. The turnpike will always charge a toll because KDOT can't afford to maintain it regardless of this bonehead legislation.

jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

Why?

That's what turnpike fees are supposed to be used for - it's the whole idea of a turnpike.

UneasyRider 1 year, 8 months ago

So now, the turnpike will be as bad as rest of Kansas roads. Bet roads to Koch headquarters will be in excellent condition however.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 8 months ago

Uneasy rider, have you ever been to Missouri or Oklahoma or Colorado or Nebraska or Texas or any other state? Kansas highways are among the best in the country though I doubt they'll survive the glide path to zero...

UneasyRider 1 year, 8 months ago

Been in all of those states, and now Kansas will make sure the roads here are just as bad. After all, we must rank 50th in the country for everything,

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