Senate bill fight kicks into high gear

WICHITA, Kansas – A statewide, month long initiative to put the clamps on a Senate bill is underway.

Senate Bill 463 is aimed at redirecting highway money to the state general fund.

Over the weekend, the Kansas Contractors Association have been running ads targeting lawmakers to get them to just say no.

It’s called Detour Greenlight and it’s pointed to 24 legislators they believe detour, or normally vote against protecting road and bridge funding.

It also names some who they say are for strong spending on roads.

“To redirect the little bit of sales tax that goes into the pot to fix our roads, maintain our bridges and to construct new projects is just wrong,” said Jim Ward, a Democratic Representative from Wichita.

Ward says governors in the past have pulled funds from what is termed the bank of KDOT, and put the money back in later.

It’s something Ward says Governor Sam Brownback has failed to do.

“He’s taken $ 2billion out of the highway plan in his six year administration, that’s over a million dollars a day, there isn’t anyone who knows that isn’t going to have a terrible, negative impact on our roads and he hasn’t put anything back,” said Ward.

Those on the detour list include Republican Senator Michael O’Donnell.

“I believe some of the concern with our budgets is that if there does have to be a cut, would we cut roads or would we cut education and I think virtually everyone in Topeka said yeah, we’d rather save education dollars,” said O’Donnell.

However, O’Donnell says he remains neutral on the bill right now, knowing a decision on this bill will have wide ranging implications.

“Honestly for something like the department of transportation, this will impact all three million Kansans and everybody that travels to Kansas and away from Kansas, they’re going to be subjected to whatever our decision is,” said O’Donnell.

The Kansas Contractors Association plans to run ads on television and social networking sites throughout the month until a decision is made on the bill.

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