Gov. Sam Brownback used his executive authority in April to delay 25 highway construction projects valued at $550 million as part of his plan to close the state budget gap, including widening U.S. 69 near Pittsburg. But then came news the first of this month – the same time the state was announcing that May tax collections were $74.5 million less than expected – that the U.S. 69 project would be fast-tracked rather than delayed, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Was the reversal aimed at boosting the re-election campaign of Sen. Jake LaTurner, R-Pittsburg? That’s what his Democratic opponent, Lynn Grant, suspects: “If the money wasn’t there six weeks ago, how can it be there now? It’s political.” – Phillip Brownlee
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