Topeka The chairman of the Kansas House Appropriations Committee said Tuesday that he was misunderstood and didn't mean to imply that the head of the Kansas Turnpike Authority had offered $25 million to kill a proposal to merge the turnpike with the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The allegation made Monday elicited a strong denial from KTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Johnston.
At the start of Tuesday's Appropriations Committee meeting, Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said his comments had not been clear, and he apologized if he had implied wrongdoing.
He later said he needed to be more careful about what he said during committee meetings.
Johnston said he wasn't satisfied. "How do I get my good name back?" he asked.
Johnston said he met with Rhoades Monday to discuss Rhoades' comment. "I met with him yesterday afternoon at 4:30 and told him in no uncertain terms that whatever he said with respect to an offer I allegedly made to the governor was absolutely false, preposterous and laughable."
Johnston said he ran into Gov. Sam Brownback "and had a similar conversation with him."
Rhoades said on Tuesday that when he brought up the $25 million during Monday's committee meeting, it was in the context of having heard that the KTA had $25 million in profits that could potentially be used to help the state budget.
Johnston said the KTA has reserves on hand but they are dedicated to future work on the turnpike.
Brownback has proposed merging the KTA and KDOT, saying that would produce savings of $30 million over two years, although no one from the administration has outlined how those savings would occur.