Archive for Friday, September 30, 2016

Democrat sees Kansas tapping road funds; Brownback won’t say

Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, left, and Gov. Sam Brownback, right.

Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, left, and Gov. Sam Brownback, right.

September 30, 2016, 4:25 p.m. Updated September 30, 2016, 5:27 p.m.

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— While Republican Gov. Sam Brownback avoided the issue Friday, a Democratic legislator said Kansas is likely to divert millions of additional dollars from highway projects to cover short-term funding gaps in other parts of the budget.

Kansas is facing at least a small projected shortfall in its current budget and could face further belt-tightening for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Brownback and other governors from both parties have regularly siphoned funds away from transportation projects in the past in complying with the state constitution's requirement for a balanced budget.

State Sen. Laura Kelly, of Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said Kansas isn't likely to have any other choice in covering short-term funding gaps in other parts of the budget. She predicted that Brownback will seek to divert sales tax revenues now set aside for road projects, estimated to be $551 million in the next fiscal year.

Brownback's aides have sought to counter criticism of his record on highway funding by promoting a Libertarian think tank's recent study rating Kansas' highway system as the nation's third best, based on 2013 data. During a news conference, he wouldn't discuss budget proposals under consideration and added, "It'd be great to tell the people of Kansas we have great roads."

Pressed again about highway funding, Brownback said, "Maybe if you would give a decent article on it, maybe could have further discussions on it."

The state has struggled to balance its budget since Republican legislators slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging as an economic stimulus. The budget fixes since have included diverting almost $1.3 billion in highway funds to other uses.

Kelly said that even if legislators raised taxes next year, the new revenues wouldn't flow to the state for months. While the state constitution requires motor fuels taxes and vehicle registration fees to be used for roads, sales tax revenues can be diverted, and Kelly said they represent the only real source of funds to plug big budget gaps quickly.

"I think they're just going to grab that, and they're going to have to," Kelly said.

Brownback's allies are facing a potential backlash in the November election. Fourteen GOP conservative legislators lost their seats in the August primary.

In touting the state's roads, the governor and his aides are addressing a potential issue in legislative races, whether the diversion of transportation funds has hurt the state's highway system. Brownback staffers repeatedly tweeted about a study released last week by the Reason Foundation, whose trustees include billionaire businessman and conservative political donor David Koch.

The foundation said that based on 2013 data, Kansas had the third best highway system, considering its cost-effectiveness along with the quality of its roads and bridges. The foundation has rated Kansas in the top 10 for more than a decade.

The last report by the foundation, issued in 2014, ranked Kansas fifth. But the state saw a bigger jump in its rating in 2006, when it went from 10th best to third best, based on 2004 data — during the administration of Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Comments

Michael Kort 1 year ago

Is there a penny to be had either today or tomorrow, anywhere, in the states budget that the LLCs don't want used to keep their tax cuts afloat and running ?

Joe Young 1 year ago

Ah Kansas...Visa bill is due, so they whip out their Mastercard to pay it

Rod Williamson 1 year ago

3rd best roads "based on 2013 data". That's before Brownstain started sucking all the funds out of the highway funds to cover his ignorant policies. Anyone wanna bet that if it was based on 2016 data the under funding and cancelled projects would drop our best roads rankings? Oh and the study was done "by the Reason Foundation, whose trustees include billionaire businessman and conservative political donor David Koch." who owns Brownstain and promotes the same idiot agenda. So of course we should trust that study. :P

Simon James 1 year ago

Kansas-The most disfunctional place on earth.

Jack Brown 1 year ago

click your heels three times and everything will get better.

James Oss 1 year ago

Brownback gestures hypnotically and won't say. Koboch probably told him he didn't have to answer questions from DEMs. Took a break from spending treasury money on fruitless anti-voter and anti-gay marriage legal crap to fill Brownback's ear with more happy horse and bull tihs. He's raided KAPERS several times already. But he doesn't care because the good 'ole boy western Kansas farmers, ranchers and too lazy to vote DEMs love and elect him no matter what he does or doesn't.

Michael Kort 1 year ago

3rd Best roads in 2013 but brownie has stolen $ 2.7 Billion from road & bridge repair for the LLCs and today is 3 years later, as in 2016 ? ( as in roads and bridges don't last forever and require constant expensive upkeep, which is no different than paying for police, fire, courts, jails, etc ) .. You don't go without police or fire dept......same for roadway and bridge repairs .

How long does anyone believe that unmaintained roads and bridges will be good for ? ( apparently until brownie is long gone from public office or until one of the Kochs should have the pleasure of riding a Ks bridge down into a river below in mid winter when the freezing water would make quick work of any surviving collapse victums . .

Meanwhile, the can is kicked down the road ( and into the non refundable wallets of the LLCs' ) !

Thomas Bryce Jr. 1 year ago

"And what the report actually said wasn’t that Kansas had the third “best” highways, but rather third most “cost effective, which is still a nice thing, but not the same thing." Thank you Peter Hancock, for saying what needs to be said instead of letting Brownback gloss it over and put Lipstick on it. Good article entitled "Brownback highlights some positive news; provides some thoughts on K-12 funding, economy woes".

Richard Heckler 1 year ago

One more example of how anti american RINO preferential tax breaks do not pay for themselves.

This nonsense has been in play since Reagan/Bush brought in the Supply Side Economics which has been nothing but political rhetoric. Supply Side Economics has zero foundation but represents theft of tax dollars from DOT funds,retirement funds,public education funds etc etc etc.

So where are the audits and grand jury investigations?

Tom Thompson 1 year ago

When does the trickle-down "miracle" occur in Brownbackistan? According to our most influential newspapers, there is absolutely no evidence yet that anyone other than the rich have benefited from the insane policies of the repub conservatives, but then, that was their intention from the beginning! What did anyone expect with the Koch Bros. running the state?

Richard Neuschafer 1 year ago

Now probably the 3rd cheapest road system because there is no money for maintenance and improvements. The data comes from a Libertarian stink tank that isn't creditable, Brownback and his minions, and those not paying any taxes are the only ones who are happy.

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