STATE DOT: Kansas merges turnpike authority and DOT

Opponents view the move as a power grab by the governor

April 22, 2013

Called a power grab, the move by the state of Kansas to make the state’s DOT secretary also in charge of the turnpike authority has been met by opposition waving a clenched fist.

Shortly after signing the legislation into law, Gov. Sam Brownback claimed the move, which puts Mike King in charge of the DOT and Kansas Turnpike Authority, would create some $30 million in savings due to program efficiencies. However, when asked to be more specific, King failed to come up with any real numbers. He said the state might be able to save money by sharing engineers, facilities and by making some changes on bonding.

Opponents of the move claim Brownback’s purpose all along was to eliminate former Turnpike Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Johnston. Others say the turnpike was running efficiently and effectively and should have been left alone.

Johnston had no comment on the new law, and did not know where his career would take him. According to King, Johnston’s future is now up to the KTA board, which is comprised of two members appointed by the governor, the chair of the Senate transportation committee, a member of the House transportation committee and King.