lawmakers have approved a budget that cuts more than $120
million from its highway program, but truckers who drive
in the state are not likely to see any changes yet.
Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller said the department
would not cut any highway projects that are already under
this point, we are not cutting any announced projects in
the program,” Miller said. “We have no need to withhold projects,
delay projects, not go forward in fiscal year 2004.”
said if the Legislature does not cut the department's funds
any further in future years, KDOT can absorb the cuts. In
part, she said, changes in the economy could help the department.
For example, when the department started the program in 1999,
it assumed it would pay 5.3% interest on bonds; now the rate
is much lower. On the $600 million in bonds the department
has yet to sell, the savings could be considerable. The department
also assumed a much higher rate of inflation than it now
doesn't capture all of what we need to capture,” she said. “But
what we're looking to do, as I said, is to absorb this cut
not just in this one fiscal year, but really throughout our
comprehensive transportation program, which runs out to fiscal
department also has a number of so-called “set-aside programs,” projects
it decides whether to pursue on a year-to-year basis.
of the options, rather than eliminating or delaying an announced
project would be to make reductions in those programs in
the out years,” she said. “The impact ultimately would be
not building something that otherwise would have been built,
but it wouldn't be eliminating a project that's already been
probably have looked at all the things we can that aren't
connected with eliminating projects,” she said. “We've sort
of taken all the flexibility, so to speak, out of the program.
If we have additional cuts into the future, I think we'll
have to take a much more serious look at the need to eliminate
or delay projects.”
comprehensive highway program includes a massive number of
road projects on highways throughout Kansas. Hundreds of
bridges will be replaced, resurfaced or overlayed; a number
of roads will be reconstructed; some rest areas will be upgraded;
and railroad crossings with be improved. Some roads will
see high-tech additions, such as the “intelligent transportation
system” proposed for interstates in the Kansas City area,
and de-icing systems planned for some bridges, including
one in Finney County. Other highways will be widened, such
as U.S. 36 in Doniphan County, U.S. 50 in Finney County,
U.S. 59 in Douglas County, Kansas Highway 61 in McPherson
and Reno counties, and U.S. 69 in Bourbon and Miami counties.
2004 budget, proposed by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, cuts
$128 million from the state's comprehensive highway program
in fiscal 2004. In addition to the $128 million, KDOT will
also lose $31 million from its fiscal 2004 budget, and an
additional $13 million during fiscal 2003, to pay the cost
of the highway patrol, Miller said. KDOT has not paid for
the highway patrol since 1983.
passed both the House and Senate April 3. The House vote
was 85-36; the Senate vote was 32-8. It is now awaiting the
governor's signature to become law. The money cut from roads
was used to help balance the state's books.
addition to the cuts for fiscal 2004, former Gov. Bill Graves,
now president of the American Trucking Associations, cut
$95 million out of last year's transportation budget. The
$128 million withheld for fiscal 2004 is state sales tax
money normally transferred to KDOT for the highway program.
Since fiscal year 2000, $612 million in sales tax money for
roads has been shifted elsewhere.
Mark H. Reddig, associate editor
H. Reddig can be reached at email@example.com.