Opinion Columns & Blogs

Tom Dondlinger: Don’t raid ‘Bank of KDOT’

Kansans have long understood the impact that good highways have on local communities, the state’s economy and the safety of our citizens. No Kansan knew this better than President Eisenhower. His leadership led to investment in infrastructure that changed America forever.

Kansas has since become one of the leaders in developing innovative comprehensive transportation plans that serve as a trademark for the state. T-WORKS is the state’s current 10-year transportation program. It provides $4.4 billion in preservation projects and $1.7 billion in modernization and expansion projects, as well as investment in transit, aviation and rail. The program calls for a minimum investment of at least $8 million in every Kansas county, which has been met in 73 of our 105 counties.

Since the Legislature passed T-WORKS in 2010, more than $600 million has been diverted to other areas of the budget, and recent revenue projections place strong pressure on the budget. T-WORKS is primarily funded through a dedicated revenue source of 0.4-cent sales tax. Without that revenue source and with additional diversions from the Kansas Department of Transportation, the program will not be completed as designed, and many Kansas communities will be left with empty promises.

Before lawmakers raid the “Bank of KDOT” to fill yet another budget hole, they should consider the estimated 175,000 jobs created over the life of the program, the $10 billion impact to the Kansas economy and the modern improvements to Kansas communities.

The transportation projects in T-WORKS are designed to help connect our rural communities, attract economic development and keep Kansans safe. These projects are not only worthy of the investment promised to Kansas but are crucial to helping grow the Kansas economy.

Tom Dondlinger is president of Dondlinger Construction in Wichita.