It’s not clear what the purpose was of the Kansas House passing a bill encouraging the Kansas Turnpike Authority and the Kansas Department of Transportation to cooperate more. The agencies are already required to do that. Is this just a face-saving bill for Gov. Sam Brownback, who had called for a merger of the agencies? Or is this an incremental step toward consolidation and siphoning off toll revenue for other purposes? The bill would allow toll revenue to be used for up to 10 miles on state highway projects that connect with the turnpike. Rep. Mark Hutton, R-Wichita, compared the turnpike to an adult who still lives with his parents. “It’s time to kick Junior out of the house,” Hutton said. But critics of the merger note that the turnpike already pays its own way, and it is the state that wants to mooch off the turnpike’s revenue and reserves. “My fear is we are just one statute away after this to capture those cash reserves,” said Rep. Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita.
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