Transportation Secretary says Kansas highway projects will proceed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top transportation official in Kansas says highway projects scheduled for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years will proceed, despite a projected multimillion shortfall in the state’s budget.

The Kansas Department of Transportation announced in August that it was planning to begin $1.2 billion in highway projects during the next two fiscal years. In November, the state announced it was expecting a $279 million shortfall for this fiscal year and a $436 million shortfall the following fiscal year.

Transportation Secretary Mike King said Wednesday the projects for the next two fiscal years will proceed, but he wasn’t as certain about 2017, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1FT6qF4 ).

“We’re committed to the projects that we have announced for the next two years, the $1.2 billion for calendar years ’15 and ’16,” King said. “So as people are talking about (the) budget and talking about, you know, how to help secure that, we’re in good shape.”

Some conservatives, such as Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, had suggested the possibility of using the highway fund for other state needs. Democrats warn that could put a stop to the state’s 10-year transportation plan, called T-Works.

The state said projects already announced to begin in fiscal 2017 will depend on the state’s budget.

“It all depends on how large the numbers that we’re talking about (are), but I think all of us are committed to – I know in Gov. Brownback’s administration – are committed to funding transportation at the appropriate levels,” King said.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, noted that the 10-year T-Works plan is not yet halfway done.

“If there is any sort of definitive job growth in the future it’s the highway plan,” he said. “Because it was estimated that the highway plan would create 175,000 jobs over 10 years, which is far more certain than Sam Brownback’s income tax cuts by comparison. . So while the secretary may say ’15 and ’16 are OK, what about the remaining five years?”

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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