- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas transportation officials told state lawmakers Tuesday some infrastructure projects would be delayed but none would be cut, despite major drops in funding.

In his proposed budget, Gov. Sam Brownback has recommended transferring state transportation funds into general state coffers to fill shortfalls over the next three years. Under his recommendations, a total of $412 million would be transferred in fiscal year 2015 and $362 million in both 2016 and 2017.

The state’s budget problems arose after lawmakers aggressively cut personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback’s urging to stimulate the economy. The state now faces projected budget shortfalls totaling more than $710 million for the current budget and the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Transportation Secretary Mike King told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that the department will be forced to delay some projects to preserve roads and bridges in the state, but it expects to have the funds to complete those projects by 2020.

King acknowledged that reduced funding for preservation projects would likely drop the percentage of the state’s roads and bridges judged to be in good condition.

But he expressed confidence that the department would continue to meet its goals, targeting a “good” rating for 80 percent of non-interstate roads and 85 percent of all interstates and bridges. In 2013, the department judged 83.4 percent of non-interstate roads to be in good condition, while 96.3 percent of interstates and 86.4 percent of bridges met this mark.

However, Deputy Transportation Secretary Jerry Younger said that current budget projections are based on a number of assumptions, including that no more transportation funds will be transferred away after 2017.

King also announced that the department will supplement its funds next year by issuing $250 million in bonds.

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Online:

Kansas Department of Transportation: https://www.ksdot.org/

Kansas Legislature: https://www.kslegislature.org

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