Kansas bill dead, called for handing over Turnpike to state DOT

| 3/31/2009

An effort to turn over control of the Kansas Turnpike Authority to the state will have to wait until next year.

A bill to abolish the Turnpike Authority and shift its powers and functions to the state Department of Transportation died in the Kansas House when it failed to meet a deadline to advance from the chamber, effectively killing it for the year.

Rep. Bill Feuerborn, D-Garnett, said the transfer included in H2178 was intended to help address the state’s huge budget deficit.

Looking down the barrel of a shortfall that could grow to nearly $1 billion by the start of the fiscal year on July 1, Feuerborn said tolls collected on the 236-mile roadway could reinvigorate state government with revenues, which totaled nearly $80 million in 2007.

He also pointed out that when state law authorized the creation of the Turnpike Authority it was envisioned that turnpike operations would be transferred to the state once the cost of building the highway had been paid.

“When the bill was originally passed, it stated that once the bonds were paid off on the initial cost of developing the turnpike it would revert to the Kansas Department of Transportation,” Feuerborn told Land Line Now on Sirius XM Radio.

According to the Turnpike Authority’s Web site, the handover is contingent on the bonds being paid off and the roadway being in good condition. “These two conditions are not likely to happen at the same time, as keeping the road in good repair requires capital investments from bond issues,” the site declares.

Even then, “KDOT could continue tolling the road even if it were to be under state control.”

The issue can be brought back up for consideration during the regular session that begins in January 2010.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Kansas in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

– Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.