Six weeks ago, Gov. Sam Brownback got irritated when discussing how he could balance the revenue-poor Kansas budget.
State Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, had just predicted that Brownback might again take sales tax money from the state’s highway fund to do that.
“It’d be great to tell the people of Kansas we have great roads,” the governor retorted that day.
He directed observers to a by-now-outdated 2013 report on state highway performance. Kansas ranked third in it — just before state revenues went off a cliff because of Brownback’s reckless 2012 income tax cuts and before he had diverted hundreds of millions of dollars from transportation.
The Associated Press reported that day: “Pressed again about highway funding, Brownback said, ‘Maybe if you would give a decent article on it, maybe we could have further discussions on it.'”
OK, governor, let’s have that further discussion — but let’s do it after looking at Monday’s extremely disappointing news.
The Wichita Eagle reported that the Kansas Department of Transportation has postponed 24 road projects worth $32 million.
That’s right: Kansas can’t even afford to continue with a paltry $32 million in highway work right now. At least it can handle the $8 million lug for 10 other, minor projects.
This bad report comes after last week’s announcement that the state could suffer a $350 million budget gap this fiscal year — and a revenue imbalance approaching an eye-popping $600 million in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1.
Bob Totten, the executive vice president of the Kansas Contractors Association, told The Eagle that postponing transportation projects is “endangering the safety of our citizens. And it’s just unfortunate on a lot of levels. We’re not going to have jobs.”
Brownback once again looks clueless and delusional about what’s going on in the Sunflower State when it comes to the budget.
Oh, and Sen. Kelly may end up being right: The governor soon could try to swipe even more tax revenue from the highway fund to try to balance the budget.
The future of Kansas’ roads is yet another public service that’s looking dimmer as the months roll by under Brownback’s incompetent rule.