Turnpike – Merging the Kansas Turnpike Authority with the state Department of Transportation is an exercise in political and governmental cannibalism. The Kansas Turnpike is an independent enterprise that benefits the state, one of the most successful in our history. It is nothing short of ridiculous that a “conservative” administration like Gov. Sam Brownback’s is willing to treat a long-standing state asset like the KTA as a fiscal cookie jar for short-term budget-balancing purposes.
Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget estimates $30 million in savings over the next two years by folding the Kansas Turnpike Authority into the Kansas Department of Transportation. But how, exactly? “We do not have that list,” Transportation Secretary Mike King told lawmakers. Apparently the plan would be for the turnpike authority and highway department to start working on the savings if the Legislature approves the merger. That’s a leap of faith the Legislature should not make.
Private employers aren’t bound to do payroll deductions for employees for anything other than state and federal taxes. So why should a public employer? Furthermore, arguably a public employer shouldn’t be the conduit for public dollars making their way into political advocacy and campaign finance. But to hear the opponents talk, you would think the state was making public-employee unions illegal. While weakening unions might be the motivation of some lawmakers, this legislation hardly does it. The unions will continue to exist, and members can contribute to lobbying and political activities.