Kansas panel OKs highway bonds

| 12/16/2005

A Kansas legislative panel has approved $60 million in bonds that the state’s transportation department said is needed to keep a 10-year highway program rolling.

Transportation Secretary Deb Miller told lawmakers before the Monday, Dec. 12, vote that the state’s highway plan needs $210 million in bonds by Jan. 31, 2006. Failure to act would result in the state halting transportation work that it already has promised, The Associated Press reported.

The bonds would compensate for the state getting less than expected in the federal Highway Bill that was approved this summer by Congress.

The Legislative Budget Committee’s unanimous consent sends the proposal to the State Finance Council for its approval. The council, which includes Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, has the power to allow the bond issue.

When state lawmakers created the transportation program six years ago, they financed it with bonds, sales taxes and increased taxes on gasoline and diesel, The AP reported. Because sales tax revenue was later diverted, the Kansas Legislature restructured the program a year ago.

The restructuring anticipated $150 million in new bonds. Legislators also left open the possibility of authorizing an additional $60 million in bonds if needed.

The state’s House and Senate transportation panels must approve the $150 million during the session that begins Jan. 9. It would then need approval by the Finance Council.