TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas lawmakers are looking at the state’s transportation needs after spending years diverting highway funds to support a faltering state budget.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee is considering a bill that would create a 27-member task force assigned with looking at Kansas’ progress on the state’s transportation plan and making recommendations to the Legislature. The bill’s initial hearing was Wednesday, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported .

Lawmakers have expressed concern over the condition of Kansas roads and highways. The Legislature has repeatedly used funds from the Kansas Department of Transportation to balance a state budget that struggled after income tax cuts by then Gov. Sam Brownback.

Democratic Sen. Tom Hawk said some communities were promised transportation infrastructure projects that never came to fruition, citing frustration from fellow committee member Republican Sen. John Doll of Garden City.

“I just use that as an example hoping that as we do Senate Bill 285 and pass it and put it in place that we make promises but we also keep those promises as we embark on a new plan,” Hawk said.

When it has funds, the Transportation Department can help with local infrastructure projects that support economic development when it has funds, said Jerry Younger, managing director of the Kansas Aggregate Producers Association and Kansas Ready Mixed Concrete Association.

“For the first time in a long time, I’m seeing a lot of organizations speaking with one voice for the most part,” said Republican Sen. Dan Goddard. “That is very refreshing. I think it is a strong indication of how important our transportation infrastructure is and our transportation system is.”


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com