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Appropriations chairman alleges that head of Kansas Turnpike offered $25 million to kill merger proposal


Topeka — House Appropriations Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said the head of the Kansas Turnpike Authority offered Gov. Sam Brownback $25 million to back off his proposal to merge the KTA with the Kansas Department of Transportation.

KTA President and Chief Exeuctive Officer Michael Johnston denied the allegation.

Rhoades made his comment Monday during committee discussion of a proposal to take $30 million in "savings" from KTA and KDOT to support general state operations.

State Rep. Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita, said no one from the Brownback administration has explained how those savings would occur. The savings, he said, "seems to be a number plucked straight from the air."

Rhoades responded, "Maybe it would come from the $25 million that the director offered the governor."

Asked to respond to Rhoades' comment, the KTA's Johnston said, "There is no truth to it."

He said of revenue collected from tolls on the 236-mile turnpike, "This money doesn't belong to me, and I can't spend it without board approval."

Johnston said a House member called him recently and asked him whether he offered $25 million to kill the merger proposal. "I gave him the same answer I am giving you," Johnston said. He declined to identify the House member.

As far as the proposed savings that Brownback has said would be realized if KTA were brought under KDOT, Johnston said he has no idea what the governor is talking about. "I was never consulted about anything," he said.

Also on Monday, the House gave final approval to a bill that says the KTA and KDOT should work together to minimize duplication of effort in maintaining the turnpike and state highway system.


Joe Hyde 5 years, 2 months ago

"Dad, should we nail Bambi now, or wait until next year when he's an 8-pointer?"

Kevin Millikan 5 years, 2 months ago

Hey, got to get some money somewhere since brownback cut all the taxes on his rich, GOP friends. What a bunch of crooks...

kernal 5 years, 2 months ago

He said, she said....and you know this how, Rhoades? Did Brownback tell you this or someone else?

Catalano 5 years, 2 months ago

Was the $25mil going into #heblowsalot's pockets? Or is there a specific budget line item for graft and corruption?

question4u 5 years, 2 months ago

The question remains: Where is the $30 million in savings going to come from? Surely Brownback can answer that. Only an imbecile would promote a plan like this on wishful thinking. Even if facts make Brownback's skin crawl, he's got to have something to base this scheme on besides a hollow claim, doesn't he?

Where is the $30 million in savings going to come from? You won't get an answer from Michael Johnston, since he has already said that he doesn't know. You won't get an answer from Marc Rhoades, because he clearly has no idea. After all, he's only the HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN. You can't expect him to know the details of the schemes that he promotes. That would be asking for competence, which no longer has a place in Kansas government.

So what about the governor, whose office is pushing this? Why can't he answer the question: Where is the $30 million in savings going to come from?

It's a simple request, but maybe he thinks that the people of Kansas don't deserve honesty and transparency. If he really doesn't know, wouldn't it be better to admit that and withdraw the plan rather than hide his ignorance and stick the people of Kansas with the consequences for years to come?

Where is the $30 million in savings going to come from?

verity 5 years, 2 months ago

". . . he's got to have something to base this scheme on besides a hollow claim, doesn't he?"

He has faith. What else does he need?

Alyosha 5 years, 2 months ago

That sounds like smart thinking. Sorry. No it doesn't.

Why not evaluate claims based on specifics instead of grossly overgeneralizing everything? It's more difficult that way, sure, but we're supposed to be self-governing here in the United States. We have a responsibility to wean ourselves away from sloppy thinking.

sci4all 5 years, 2 months ago

That $30 million in savings is going to come from the same place as that $2 billion error and the billions spent on tax cuts.

We already knew our Governor hates science; now that math doesn't align with his ideology, look for changes to the math curriculum soon.

oldexbeat 5 years, 2 months ago

thank you. remember that when your god tells you to lie, it is ok. there have been lots of lies -- ah, mistakes -- made recently in the numbers department by sammy and gang. must mean one thing -- they are making them up and have no clue until someone asks. So thank you.

olddognewtrix 5 years, 2 months ago

What a comedy of charlatans and fools the Brownback administration and his backers have become. a day of reckoning will come sooner or later. Brownbacks reputation for dirty politics will sink his presidential ambitions faster than a leaky canoe.

verity 5 years, 2 months ago

That ship never floated. Sank as soon as it hit the water in the shipyard. Didn't even make it to the dock. Sitting in the shallow water right offshore ripping holes in other boats. Causing a huge pile of wreckage and pollution to rival Possum Lake.

I do have a morbid curiosity about what really goes on in Brownback's mind and what he does hope to accomplish by his malfeasance. Is he delusional enough to think that he might be president? Not even the Koch's can buy that for him and I don't think they're delusional enough to try. They've got way bigger fish.

buffalo63 5 years, 2 months ago

One can only hope! [this was a reply for olddognewtrix] .

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years, 2 months ago

I believe he has absolute privilege as a legislator discussing policy in a committee setting. The privilege prevents him from being sued. Like agnostick, I could be wrong or my understanding could be incomplete.

verity 5 years, 2 months ago

Mr Rhoades, give us your source or shut the hell up.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 2 months ago

No, verity, he should apologize, go before the ethics committee for his lie, and then shut up.

gccs14r 5 years, 2 months ago

No, he should apologize and resign from office, then shut up.

PhilChiles 5 years, 2 months ago

I say we stomp him! Then we hang him! Then we tattoo him! Then we kill him! (Sorry-only funny if you remember Pee Wee's Big Adventure)

Michael Henderson 5 years, 2 months ago

I think his stupid 2008 try will put paid to any White House ambitions. Of course, if he were to get the GOP nomination, Kansas might go to a Democrat for only the third time in its history as a state: Cleveland in 1892, Johnson in 1964, and Hillary in 2016. The best Brownnose can hope for is as Christie's running mate. But maybe the GOP will pick Paul Ryan or Rand Paul, than whom only Brownback is worse.

costello 5 years, 2 months ago

Ok, so is this how we do things now? Legislators smear people with unsupported allegations during public committee discussions?

I don't know why this shocks me so much considering the source, but I'm shocked.

TinmanKC 5 years, 2 months ago

Just like the magicians - it's all sleight of hand. But the suckers all applaud and re-elect them even as their own pockets have been picked.

Mojoman 5 years, 2 months ago

Rhodes is from Newton....... Secretary King is from Newton. Hummmnn


William Ballard 5 years, 2 months ago

Since the Republicans in the Legislature seem to willing to make up about anything to support their beliefs, I tend to think that Marc Rhoades allegation is a big fat lie. These Republicans are pushing a bill to force doctors to tell patients that having an abortion causes cancer, even though there is no scientific evidence. As far as their desire to combine the KTA and KDOT, no one in the Brownback administration is able to say exactly how this action will save 30 million dollars. They just make up figures to suit their needs. The people of Kansas need to vote these idiots out of office. Marc Rhoades should resign because of his lies.

Curveball 5 years, 2 months ago

We all know how hard it is to prove Bribery in this state or at least Douglas county. Just ask Lou.

Robert Greenwood 5 years, 2 months ago

There was no bribery, just as Marc Rhoades. You misunderstood.

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