A lobbying campaign being waged by highway contractors has Kansas lawmakers on the defensive. Billboards put up by the contractors accuse Governor Sam Brownback and lawmakers of committing “highway robbery” by diverting more than a billion dollars from the transportation department to plug holes in the state budget. Senator Jeff Melcher fired back at a Statehouse hearing today (WED). The Leawood Republican called the charges a “gross misrepresentation of reality.”
Bob Totten is Executive Vice President of the Kansas Contractors Association. He says the transfers have not yet affected the transportation department’s ability to take on new projects. But he says about half of the money earmarked for maintaining Kansas roads and bridges has been siphoned off. Governor Brownback is urging lawmakers to approve another $25 million in highway fund transfers. That would increase the total amount transferred since 2015 to nearly $870 million.
This story was contributed by Jim McLean, of the KHI News Service.