Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
When you hear Governor Sam Brownback explain it, you have to wonder why it took so long to come to the realization that excess bureaucracy is costing Kansas taxpayers and motorists money they can ill afford to waste.
Brownback announced last week that he wants to abolish the Kansas Turnpike Authority and put operations of the Turnpike under the secretary of transportation. In his recent 2013 State of the State speech to the legislature Brownback said:
"One of the clearest examples of duplication in state government is the fact that we have two highway departments: the Kansas Department of Transportation, and the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
"It is time that we realize the efficiencies to be gained by placing these two operations under the same umbrella. We don’t need two highway departments in Kansas. One is enough," said Brownback.
How will the state take over the Turnpike operations? Those details are sketchy. Turnpike staff were surprised by the Governor's proposal. Brownback who has been governor for two years had not mentioned it before. It almost certainly requires legislation to implement the Governor's plan, and no legislation is yet written.
The Governor's budget presented the next day suggested the absorption of the Turnpike into the state DOT would save $15m over two years.
According to tollroadsnews.com, the Turnpike board and staff have said nothing much publicly about the proposal, except that they are inquiring about what is proposed. The matter was not discussed at the Turnpike Authority board meeting soon after the Governor's speech.
Chief executive officer of the Turnpike for 18 years, Michael Johnston has made no comment.
The Turnpike has neary 500 employees who are led by Johnston and eight other executives. Johnston is a former secretary of the DOT (1991-94).
KDOT has nearly 2,800 employees and a budget of $1.6 billion.
Independent turnpike agencies like Kansas include Maine, New York State Thruway, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Illinois, Maryland.
Turnpikes that have been absorbed into the state DOT include Florida, New Hampshire, Delaware, Massachusetts, Texas and North Carolina.
Abolished state turnpike agencies include Connecticut which de-tolled and Indiana which privatized into a longterm lease/concession.