Colyer calls to stop diverting Kansas highway funds
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ new governor has joined increased calls to stop using state highway funding for other purposes.
The state has spent more than $3.3 billion meant for highways on other areas of spending over the past 20 years. As a result, the state is currently delaying nearly two dozen projects to repair or expand highways, the Wichita Eagle reported .
“We must end the highway funding sweeps and build an effective plan that promotes economic development and strengthens our transportation network,” Gov. Jeff Colyer told lawmakers last week.
Colyer didn’t offer a concrete proposal or timeline for ending the transfer of money from highways to other areas. But the governor is calling for a transportation task force to identify the best option, said Kara Fullmer, the governor’s spokeswoman.
Former Gov. Sam Brownback relied on taking money from the highway fund to help weather years of less-than-expected revenue. The state’s revenue issue is improving after lawmakers last year repealed much of the former governor’s signature tax cuts.
Lawmakers said it’s unrealistic to immediately end the highway transfers. The Kansas Contractors Association appreciated Colyer’s statement but know that ending the funding diversions will take time, said Michael White, the association’s director.
“We’ve been pretty clear that we would like to see a process or a plan to start moving in that direction, but I don’t think there’s any contractors in Kansas that expect it to flip over to zero overnight,” he said.
The Kansas Department of Transportation currently has 23 delayed projects, which are valued at more than $525 million, according to the department.
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com