TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) — Lawmakers have approved a partial merger of the Kansas Turnpike Authority and the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The bill now heads to Gov. Sam Brownback, who included the merger in his proposed budget. Supporters say the consolidation will save the state money.
But critics feared the proposal was an attempt to move toll money from the turnpike to the highway department. The concern was the highway department has traditionally had money taken from it to fund other state operations. Lawmakers changed the legislation to essentially restrict toll money to turnpike roads and bridges.
Critics also said the legislation was aimed at getting rid of the Democrat that oversees the Kansas Turnpike — something Brownback’s office denied. Under the bill, the secretary of transportation will be in charge of the KTA.