Democrats call Brownback ‘disingenuous’ in touting highway projects

? Gov. Sam Brownback criss-crossed the state this week announcing more than $1.8 billion in major highway projects, including the South Lawrence Trafficway in Lawrence.

And that has Democrats crying foul because Brownback, a Republican, opposed the increase in the state sales tax rate to fund the state’s comprehensive transportation program.

“It’s a little disingenuous,” Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said Friday.

During the 2010 campaign for governor, Brownback was critical of the temporary 1-cent sales tax rate increase that had been passed earlier in the year by a bipartisan coalition in the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat.

Under the tax, six-tenths of the 1-cent increase will expire in 2013, and the remaining four-tenths of a cent will fund the transportation program.

“Brownback was against the sales tax increase, he was critical of Tom (Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Tom Holland) for voting for it, and he touts his anti-tax record. Yet these highway projects are contingent upon the four-tenths of a cent,” Hensley said.

Brownback’s running mate, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, voted for the transportation plan but against the sales tax increase when he was a state senator last year.

Over four-day, five-city swing this week, Brownback announced the projects, saying they will enhance safety, generate jobs and increase economic development.

Brownback declined to respond to the Democrats’ criticism. But his office put out a statement, saying, “At every TWORKS announcement the governor gave credit to former Gov. Mark Parkinson and the 2010 Kansas Legislature for the work they did to pass and fund the transpiration plan and thanked them for their leadership.”