Politics & Government

Highway coalition opposes shifting sales tax money away from roads

Economic Lifelines, a coalition of pro-highway business associations and labor unions, has passed a resolution asking the state Legislature not to divert sales tax money away from roads to help close a state budget gap caused by income-tax cuts.

The money at issue is part of a one percent “emergency” sales tax the Legislature passed three years ago in response to the recession.

Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed making the higher sales tax rate permanent, to make up for state revenue lost when he and the Legislature excused certain types of businesses from paying income taxes and cut rates for other taxpayers.

The emergency sales tax legislation originally dropped 60 percent of the tax increase on June 30. Forty percent of the tax increase would continue to fund T-Works, the $8.2 billion, 10-year comprehensive plan for state highways that started in 2010.

Brownback has said he will fully fund the highway program and in a resolution, Economic Lifelines expressed appreciation for that.

But the resolution continued: Economic Lifelines however, acknowledges our continuing concerns that savings from the Kansas Department of Transportation will go to other programs within the State budget.

“The State must stop relying on transportation-dedicated funding as a readily available source of funds. We oppose transfers or diversions from the State Transportation Fund.”

Economic Lifelines is an umbrella organization that represents several local chambers of commerce including Wichita, Hutchinson, Topeka, Olathe, Overland Park, Lawrence, Manhattan and Salina; the cities of Newton and Great Bend and economic development associations of Finney County, Kingman County and Oberlin/Decatur.

Also included in the coalition are various construction associations and unions including the Kansas Aggregate & Concrete and Kansas Asphalt Pavement associations, the AFL-CIO and the Mo/Kan Operating Engineers Local 101.