Advertisement

Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Senate approves bill to put KDOT secretary in charge of Kansas Turnpike Authority

March 27, 2013

Advertisement

— The Kansas Senate on Wednesday put the pedal to the metal to deliver control of the Kansas Turnpike to Gov. Sam Brownback.

The Senate approved 26-14 a bill that would make Brownback's Secretary of Transportation Mike King the chairman of the Kansas Turnpike Authority and its chief executive officer.

State Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, sought to ease concerns that the KTA would be taken over by the much larger Kansas Department of Transportation. "It is not a merger. It is not a money grab," Masterson said.

To prove that, Masterson urged approval of an amendment to the bill that prohibited the use of toll revenue for anything other than the operation and maintenance of the 236-mile turnpike.

But Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the KTA board's most important decision is hiring the chief executive. Under the bill, that would be taken out of the board's hands.

"This is a huge change to take the autonomous nature of the board away from them," Hensley said.

One of the staunchest defenders of the turnpike, state Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, said, "Trust me, it's a merger. KDOT will be running the turnpike."

Donovan described himself as a "huge supporter" of Brownback, but said this idea was a mistake.

"This is a sad day in the state of Kansas," Donovan said, calling the turnpike a "crown jewel."

He asked his fellow Republicans, "Why on earth would you take our very best run entity in the state of Kansas and want to change it, and put it under the control of the government?"

Of the 26 votes for the bill, 25 were Republicans.

At the start of the 2013 legislative session, Brownback urged putting the Turnpike Authority under KDOT, saying it didn't make sense to have two highway agencies.

Brownback said the merger would save $30 million over two years, although KDOT Secretary King has said he doesn't know how those savings would occur.

The bill approved by the Senate now goes back to the House, which passed a version that encouraged cooperation between KDOT and KTA.

Michael Johnston, the president and chief executive officer of the Turnpike Authority, could not be immediately reached for comment. In the past, Johnston has declined to comment on proposals under consideration for the turnpike, saying it is up to the Legislature to set policy for the state.

Comments

BigAl 1 year, 9 months ago

How is this a good source of revenue? Where is the $30 million savings? We are back to voodoo economics and big government by the republicans. If this were happening under a democrat governor, the republicans would go ballistic.

verity 1 year, 9 months ago

"It is not a money grab"

Uh-huh.

If it works, break it. If it's already broken, smash it beyond repair. We want to be like them third world countries---they're exotic and people come visit and stare and point. Big tourist dollars in that.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 9 months ago

This is the same deal as brownback appointing judges bypassing the current nominating committee. It's a power grab by the far right. This is how democracy dies...to thunderous applause. Huge mistake but we will figure it out after we are all in shackles...

daviskan 1 year, 9 months ago

I understand that there is a group of "old guard" (somewhat moderate compared to the current "Far Righteous") . I wonder when they will come out of the closet.. I think there are a lot of RINO"s that are ready to go to work if we had some leadership

arylwren 1 year, 9 months ago

Looks like I won't be taking the turnpike anymore. And that is very sad.

juma 1 year, 9 months ago

The good people of Western Kansas who support brownback are not affected because most of them don't travel and those that do take Hwy40 to KC. I wish some reporter would demand a detail accounting of the $30M savings. Maybe by having the turnpike as poorly managed as the public roads.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 9 months ago

None2, population matters in voting as you point out. However, turnout rates matter too. Western kansas counties have higher turnout rate because they have older median ages, and guess what, older people vote at a higher rate than younger people.

CountyResident 1 year, 9 months ago

I can't believe that the Republican Party is supporting the take over of a private business. This moves the current republicans far away from my way of thinking as a long time registered republican. I will be removing myself as a republicaion as soon as I can get to the court house.

George_Braziller 1 year, 9 months ago

How is this even possible? KTA owns and operates the turnpike and has its own governing board.

Curveball 1 year, 9 months ago

Excellant Post, none2 I would guess that western Kansas folks drive double or triple the mileage compared to people in the urban areas of eastern Kansas just to conduct normal business and everyday tasks. As far as highway 40, there are some areas out west where it doesn't even exist anymore, not even as a county road. I-70 changed everything. One of the biggest problems out west is just getting basic services like a simple grocery store or fuel station. But then, maybe their only function in life is to pay taxes toward those monumental institutions in the eastern part of the state.

Tradways 1 year, 9 months ago

Bad sign when the current KDOT Secretary doesn't have any idea how the merger would save 30 million. I do, after speaking with KTA Trooper he told me they now can make any state highway a toll road and specifically said 59 highway from Lawrence to Ottawa could be a toll road. Brownback hates Lawrence/Dg Co and I'm sure he would make sure it got hit first. To stay with his current trend of passing the buck, people would use county roads much more passing the buck onto the county to maintain their roads. Same song and dance from these Neocon Brownback Republicans, I cut your state income tax, but took away middleclass tax breaks which actually means you will owe the state more than ever.

verity 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm going to say it again---

He asked his fellow Republicans, "Why on earth would you take our very best run entity in the state of Kansas and want to change it, and put it under the control of the government?"

Robert Greenwood 1 year, 9 months ago

Appears Les did not get the memo from the Governor? Yes, Les it is a sad day in the Senate. And I thought there was only one waterboy in the Senate. There are 25 waterboys in the Senate. Careful Les, you know what happens when Senators don't vote the way the Gov wants them to vote.

UneasyRider 1 year, 9 months ago

Is it a surprise that Brownback told his legislative lacky's to destroy the KTA? Where do you think the money from that change is going? Tax cuts for Koch's, are the taxpayers so stupid they don't see that? Apparently so, they voted this idiot into office. Brownback, the one true bought and paid for Koch Head.

UneasyRider 1 year, 9 months ago

Brownbak has one single goal, destroy Kansas and hand over what remains to the Koch's. After all, that is where his income is coming from? Sadder still is this idiot believes all the lies and actions he's taking will benefit average Kansan. But then, his "god" told him he was the chosen one to do this. Wonder why so many hate religion and the religious "true believers", more often known as religious nuts?

Larry Sturm 1 year, 9 months ago

What Brownback is really doing is steeling 30 million from the KTA to help with the tax breaks for the rich.

pace 1 year, 8 months ago

horror story, Destruction of public property and infrastructure inKansas. Nightmare, will take decades to recover from Koch's stupid fantasy of power, what will they own once it has been crippled by stupid plunder.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.