More wild claims about turnpike merger

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, is still counting $30 million in savings over two years from merging the Kansas Turnpike Authority with the Kansas Department of Transportation, even though the heads of both KDOT and KTA have said they don’t know what the specific savings would be. What’s more, when Rep. Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita, complained that the savings “seems to be a number plucked straight from the air,” Rhoades claimed Monday that KTA president and CEO Michael Johnston had offered to transfer $25 million to the state if Gov. Sam Brownback would drop the merger proposal, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. Johnston said later that “there is no truth” to Rhoades’ claim. Rhoades apologized Tuesday for the claim, saying he was misunderstood, but Johnston wasn’t satisfied. “How do I get my good name back?” he asked.