Archive for Friday, April 19, 2013

Brownback signs into law measure making KDOT secretary the director of operations of Kansas Turnpike

April 19, 2013


— Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday signed into law legislation that will make his appointed secretary of transportation also director of operations of the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

Brownback and Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Mike King said the law will produce savings through efficiencies between the 10,000-mile state highway system and the 236-mile toll road.

But critics of the legislation have called it a power grab by Brownback, a Republican, aimed at running off the current KTA president and chief executive officer, Mike Johnston, who served in the Legislature as a Democrat. Some Republicans also argued against the bill, saying the turnpike was efficiently run and should be left alone.

Brownback said he didn't know what would happen to Johnston, whom he called "a good guy."

King said that Johnston's future would be up to the KTA board, which is composed of five members: two members appointed by the governor, and King, and the chair of the Senate transportation committee and a member of the House transportation committee.

King added that a number of people who work for the turnpike and KDOT are eligible for retirement.

Johnston, who was not at the bill-signing ceremony, said he didn't know what would happen.

He said he hasn't had any conversations with Brownback or King "suggesting that I do something else."

He added,"Whatever my future is will be largely determined by my own preference."

Johnston wouldn't comment on whether he thought the new law was a good one, saying that was the prerogative of the Legislature and governor.

Brownback had called for merging KDOT and KTA in his State of the State address and built into his budget $30 million in savings over two years in efficiencies from the merger.

But during the legislative session, when asked by legislators, King provided no specifics on how the savings would happen.

On Friday, he said the state may be able to save money by sharing engineers, facilities and making some changes on bonding. He said he was going to form a focus group in the next several weeks to study the issue.

The legislation includes a provision that tolls from the turnpike can only be used for operation of the turnpike. In addition, the law will expire July 1, 2016, which supporters said would give the Legislature time to see if the new system was working well.


clockwork 12 months ago

The "savings" is going to come from sharing engineers and workers which equals unemployment! All they talk about is how we need job creation but are so willing to take steps where people end up losing their jobs. Do not know how they sleep at night.


Larry Sturm 12 months ago

Stealing from Peter to pay Paul that is the way our govenor works won't be long till the cash cow is gone then what will he do.


Kate Rogge 12 months ago

I just read Jill Docking's blog ( ) and sent her an email message ( ) of support. If she's willing to run against Sam Brownback, I will contribute to and work for her campaign. I'm a lifelong Democrat and I agree we must create a political alliance with our fellow Democrats, independents, and disaffected moderate Republicans if we are to have any chance of stopping this neo-conservative train wreck from destroying our beautiful state.


oletimer 1 year ago

Johnston is gone. but first he needs to sue the state for defamation of character for them saying he was trying to bribe state officials. When the hell was a "king" elected? king brownyback is doing everything in his power to destroy what once was the fine state of Kansas.


weeslicket 1 year ago

i am a little bit surprised the governor settled on the amount of $30 million as predicted savings. he could have just as easily chosen $100 million as his predicted savings.


Jackie Jackasserson 1 year ago

Translation, I am too nice to say anything about the governor's decision, but I expect a pink slip on a Friday in the near future.


tomatogrower 1 year ago

He only did this so he could get his hands on the Turnpike's revenue, and make it look like there is more money for roads than actually exists.


autie 1 year ago

Under the guidance of Deb Miller our KDOT was one of the more top notch state agencies..still is despite what the so called leadership is doing. In fact, many of our state employees are efficient and dedicated to the task. The political appointees are mucking up the waters and we suffer from the drought of no servant leadership.


1southernjayhawk 1 year ago

To all of the above. You have no idea what this decision means and no idea whether or not it will be a successful one. But you do sound like a bunch of whiners.


FlintlockRifle 1 year ago

One of the very best roadways in the country, in a few years you will think you a driving on I-70 over in Missouti, bad move there Gov.


oletimer 1 year ago

just another way for browny to destroy the state of Kansas. say goodby to the best road in several states. not saying kdot are idiots, but their boss is. there will be no money to maintain the road from now on. just another cash grab for browny.


Larry Sturm 1 year ago

Is their ever any debate on any of these bills or does Brownback just tell them what he wants and they pass it and he signs it into law. What a corrupt government. It will take 50 years to undo what he has done in 3 years. I'm glad that I don't live in kansas anymore but I pity my kids and grandkids. I can't even hardly stand to look at that grin on his face.


Bud Stagg 1 year ago

Another example of a country founded by geniouses and run by idiots. Anything run by the government sucks. One of the best roads in the country will now become "one of the rest"


Tracy Rogers 1 year ago

This guy is literally destroying our State!


autie 1 year ago

Now the party of smaller government that wants to privatize all the government functions so their buddies can make their kickbacks and wants to shut down a privatized entity of government operation so...what, who is getting the benefit out of this deal? KTA has been a very successful group in operating the turnpike. Why muddle it up and expand government?


Hooligan_016 1 year ago

Hooray for dumb decisions!


webmocker 1 year ago

"On Friday, he said the state may be able to save money by sharing engineers, facilities and making some changes on bonding. He said he was going to form a focus group in the next several weeks to study the issue."

Act first, attempt to understand later.


kansas_cynic 1 year ago

Seems first rule of Brownback is: If it ain't broke, break it. Then introduce a bill to make it as bad as anything in Texas, Mississippi, Missouri or Oklahoma.


Bruce Bertsch 1 year ago

Step one in making the turnpike as bad as the typical road in Missouri. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just another day in Brownbackistan.


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