The possibility that the State of Kansas could rob highway project funds to solve the state’s fiscal crisis has come up at recent Barton County Commission meetings. Local officials are worried about work that is promised to the area but that now may be delayed if not cancelled.
What’s the deal? Kansas legislators are likely to consider diverting funds earmarked for highway projects to general government programs. The chairmen of the House and Senate budget committee say such a step is an option as legislators work to close combined shortfalls of more than $714 million in the current and next state budgets.
Kansas started a 10-year and $8 billion transportation program in 2010. The program is financed outside the state’s main bank account with bonds, motor fuels taxes, vehicle registration fees and some sales tax revenues.
The state has diverted highway funds in the past.
The misguided policies of the Gov. Sam Brownback administration has dug this hole and plunked the entire state right into it. These policies have drawn the scorn and ridicule of pundits and cartoonists from outside of Kansas.
Now, the administration is scrambling to spin the situation its way while looking to steal from Peter to pay Paul. Sadly, the Legislature is following this lead right down the rabbit hole.
This is all very shortsighted.
Our infrastructure is our lifeline, especially here in rural Kansas. The maintenance of existing roads and the development of new ones, such as the Northwest Passage, are crucial to our livelihoods, social interactions, commerce and economies.
The Associated Press reports that Executive Vice President Bob Totten of the Kansas Contractors Association said Thursday that the group is concerned about the possibility but believes there’s bipartisan support for transportation projects.
We can only hope these guys win the day.
Our success is at stake.