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KDOT Urges Increased Federal Transportation Funding


February 27, 2004 (04-028)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News Contact: Krista Roberts, (785) 296-3585

KDOT Urges Increased Federal Transportation Funding

Topeka – The Sebelius administration is urging members of the Kansas delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a federal transportation program that substantially increases funding to the state.

Representatives of the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) met individually this week in Washington, D.C. with members of the Kansas delegation. Their meetings followed Governor Kathleen Sebelius’ call earlier this week for the Bush administration to drop its opposition to a highway-funding bill that would increase federal aid to Kansas by approximately $687 million over the next six years.

“It is critical that the House follow the Senate’s lead and pass a federal highway bill that significantly increases funding to Kansas,” said Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller. “Additional federal dollars would make it much easier for us to craft a plan to complete the state’s Comprehensive Transportation Program (CTP).”

Miller recently warned that she would have to eliminate approximately $550 million in highway improvement projects if the Kansas Legislature doesn’t approve Governor Kathleen Sebelius’ plan to complete the CTP. The Governor’s plan calls the state to issue $465 million in bonds to complete the 10-year building program, which was approved by the Legislature in 1999.

The bond proceeds would replace sales tax revenue that budget projections show the state can’t afford to transfer to the State Highway Fund in the remaining years of the program.

Both the Governor and Miller have said if Congress approves higher federal funding levels, the state could use the additional funds to reduce the size of the bond issue needed to complete the CTP.

“We intend to work closely with House members from Kansas because our ability to keep promises to communities across this state may depend on their support of higher federal funding,” Miller said, noting that Kansas 1st District Congressman Jerry Moran is a key member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“We’re confident that Congressman Moran understands the importance of transportation to Kansas,” Miller continued, “And we hope that he and the other members of the Kansas House delegation will follow Senator Pat Roberts’ lead in voting for substantially higher funding in the reauthorization bill.”

The Senate version of the six-year reauthorization bill, the Safe Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 (SAFETEA) was approved on February 12.  It would provide Kansas with an estimated $2.6 billion, a $687 million increase over the previous federal program, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). 

However, only a portion of the federal funding increase could be used to complete the CTP, Miller said.  She said while an initial estimate indicated as much as $240 million could be used for CTP projects, an updated estimate based on formulas being used in the House bill indicates that $180 million may be a more realistic figure.