EL UPDATE – Summer 2017

We wanted to share with you some of the coverage surrounding the 2018 gubernatorial race and those individuals that have expressed interest so far in being the next Governor of the great state of Kansas at this point. We encourage you to take a minute to listen to this story entitled “One Year Before Primary, Kansas Governor’s Race Attracts A Crowd of Candidates,” by Stephen Koranda on KCUR.

Meanwhile, agency work at KDOT continues with the announced $2.6M in approved bids in July. Read the KDOT announcement here and also be sure to see the request for comment on the statewide transportation improvement program for FFY 2018-2021.

Additionally, be sure to check out the recent piece from All Things Considered entitled “Infrastructure Investment Trends 10 Years After Bridge Collapse,” by David Schaper.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the new quarterly EL Insider Newsletter. We hope that this newsletter offers a great way for you to stay abreast of what’s happening during the “off season” when the legislature heads home from Topeka. Because transportation is important, there is always information to share and we are excited for this new format.

Have a great week and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns or ideas! I can be reached at tara@economiclifelines.com or by phone at (785) 969-9270.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Tara Mays
(785) 969-9270 or tara@economiclifelines.com

Posted in From the director | Comments Off on EL UPDATE – Summer 2017

T-WORKS PROGRESS: JUNE 28

The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) has begun the process of letting additional critical preservation projects based on the $400 million in additional bonding authority Economic Lifelines worked to have authorized by the 2017 Kansas Legislature.

Economic Lifelines sought to have the additional bonding provide a “bridge” in funding over a two-year period, while the Kansas Legislature worked to stabilize funding of the General Budget, in order to eventually end the need for state highway funds to balance the budget.

In January, KDOT planned to let only $43 million in preservation projects during FY18, but will now spend approximately $320 million in both FY18 and FY19.

  • The breakdown in preservation spending, for FY18, is as follows:
    $115 million will be spent on “1R” projects. Examples of these types of projects are overlays, seals, patching and surfacing work. 1R projects help to ensure the full useful life of roadways and protect the investments already made to our system.
  • $143 million will be spent on heavy preservation projects. Examples of these types of projects are bridge replacements or sections where full reconstruction may be necessary. Two of the main projects that will be programmed during FY18 with these additional preservation funds are: 1) I-70 in Wyandotte County at the Lewis & Clark Viaduct over the Kansas River in Kansas City, Kan., which will be let in November 2017. 2) I-70 in Gove County from 1 mile west of K-23 to 4 miles east of K-211, which will be let in April 2018. Other heavy preservation projects can be expected in Edwards, Allen, Sheridan, Hamilton, and Butler counties during FY18.

The rest of the funds will be programmed to yet-to-be determined 1R projects and made public on the KDOT monthly letting list which can be found here.

It is important to note that funds for these projects are based on borrowing, so the funds dedicated for these projects CANNOT be swept into the State General Fund.

For additional project information you can always see further details regarding transportation investments on the T-WORKS website.

We want to again thank Economic Lifelines members for your support in protecting the infrastructure investments in Kansas. If you have any questions or if there is ever any additional information that I can provide please feel free to contact me at any time. I can be reached at tara@economiclifelines.com or by phone at (785) 969-9270.

Sincerely,

Tara Mays
Executive Director
(785) 969-9270 or tara@economiclifelines.com

Posted in Legislative Update | Comments Off on T-WORKS PROGRESS: JUNE 28

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: JUNE 12

The legislative session wrapped over the weekend after completing their 113th day of work, making it the second longest session in history. (The record was set in 2015 with a 114-day session!)

But they didn’t adjourn without tackling some major public policy issues, including passing a comprehensive tax reform measure upon overriding the governor’s veto. This reform puts the state back onto more stable financial ground. So much so that just hours after passing the reform package Moody’s returned the State of Kansas to a stable outlook from negative watch. (Read about Moody’s upgrade.)

This measure is a great step forward. This gives Kansas an opportunity to begin the long walk away from a reliance on the State Highway Fund money to fill budget shortfalls. We want to thank those that supported meaningful tax reform, although we understand that there is still more hard work to do in the years to come.

The legislature also proceeded with a bi-partisan effort aimed at allowing KDOT the ability to ensure proper maintenance and preservation on Kansas roadways. At the urging of Economic Lifelines and other transportation advocacy organizations, both the house and senate passed language allowing KDOT to bond up to an additional $400m to address critical maintenance needs. While debt isn’t an ideal solution, it’s a decision that ensures KDOT roads can stay in good condition as we move through the next two fiscal years. This choice, while not an easy one, is necessary to ensure the agency can let projects that will meet the minimum preservation needs of the state.

Economic Lifelines would like to thank the legislators who helped lead the efforts of ensuring that our states preservation needs can be met: Rep. JR Claeys (R-Salina), Rep. Henry Helgerson (D-Wichita), Rep. Troy Waymaster (R-Russell), Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore (D- Kansas City), Sen. John Skubal (R-Overland Park), Sen. Vicki Schmidt (R-Topeka), Sen. Carolyn McGinn (R-Sedgwick), and Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka).

As any bill does, the budget measure next goes before the Governor for review before becoming law. He has the ability, through the line-item veto, to strike spending items contained in the measure.

Legislators will return for sine die, the official end to the legislative session, on June 26th.

Overall, this legislative session was a great success for transportation in Kansas. While, advocates of transportation didn’t get everything that was proposed, there was considerable movement in the right direction, with a more stable revenue picture for Kansas and additional resources for transportation We want to thank Economic Lifelines members: You played a crucial part in building momentum and enthusiasm on important infrastructure issues in Kansas. We couldn’t do it without you!

I can be reached at tara@economiclifelines.com or by phone at (785) 969-9270 if you have questions or would like more information.

Sincerely,

Tara Mays
Executive Director
(785) 969-9270 or tara@economiclifelines.com

Posted in Legislative Update | Comments Off on LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: JUNE 12

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: MAY 26

This week, members of the House Tax Conference Committee proposed a $0.03 increase in Motor Fuels Tax paired with a redirection of the sales tax from the State Highway Fund to the State General Fund for the next three years and potentially beyond.This week, members of the House Tax Conference Committee proposed a $0.03 increase in Motor Fuels Tax paired with a redirection of the sales tax from the State Highway Fund to the State General Fund for the next three years and potentially beyond.

While this suggestion wasn’t ultimately included in the final committee report submitted to the legislature this week, there remains some possibility it could resurface during forthcoming legislative discussions, negotiations and debate. Consequently, it is important to clarify the impacts of the proposal as a final tax policy and budget are assembled.

This proposal does not allow the agency to fully fund preservation projects necessary to maintain the system in its current condition. KDOT has calculated the required level of preservation investment to be $380 million annually. The proposed $0.03 fuel tax increase would add roughly $50 million annually to the State Highway Fund. Unfortunately, KDOT’s current cash flow allows only a $44 million preservation investment in FY18, so adding $50 million in additional revenue still leaves KDOT woefully short of providing the critical $380 million preservation investment.

To compound the downside of the proposal, KDOT has acknowledged that today’s funding picture results in significantly less than a $380 million preservation program again in FY19. Redirecting the sales tax in FY20 and beyond will only add more strain to the KDOT cash flow and result in FY19 preservation spending being even lower than the current inadequate amount.

This idea is not a solution that helps the state to maintain its highway system and keep it in good condition, but rather reduces the ability for KDOT to adequately fund preservation needs in the short term and creates funding uncertainty over the long term.

We are thankful that the legislature is concerned about putting additional dollars into maintaining our state transportation system but any proposal that includes the sales tax redirection creates more problems than it solves.

I can be reached at tara@economiclifelines.com or by phone at (785) 969-9270 if you have questions or would like more information.

Sincerely,
Tara Mays
Executive Director
(785) 969-9270 or tara@economiclifelines.com

Posted in Legislative Update | Comments Off on LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: MAY 26

THANK BUDGET COMMITTEES FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO MAINTAINING THE STATE’S TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

While the tax committees are continuing their important work on addressing the overall tax structure, the budget committees in both the house and senate have passed an important measure allowing KDOT to bond to fund preservation on the state highway system at the levels necessary to maintain the current condition.

These decisions are not easy during these difficult financial times, but we applaud the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee for their commitment to invest in preserving our infrastructure so that the state won’t have to delay maintenance that will be much more costly in the future.

A potential payback mechanism for such bonding could include an additional motor fuel tax which continues to be discussed by the tax committee in the house or dedicating a portion of the existing sales tax revenue stream.

We want to thank all of the Economic Lifelines members for their support as we continue to raise awareness on the importance of infrastructure investments to our state.

We ask that you thank the members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee for their support in maintaining our state’s infrastructure.

As always, we will continue to keep you informed as the session progresses and these proposals are forwarded to the full chambers for debate.

If you have an opportunity to expose legislators to a behind the scenes look at their transportation system that we can help to arrange or if there is ever any information or assistance that we can provide, please feel free to contact me at anytime. I can be reached at tara@economiclifelines.com or by phone at (785) 969-9270.

 

Sincerely,

Tara Mays
Executive Director
(785) 969-9270 or tara@economiclifelines.com

P.S. While you continue to have these discussions with policymakers, please feel welcome to use the feedback tool provided on our website. We will follow up with legislators to continue the dialog about the importance of infrastructure investments to the economy.

Posted in Legislative Update | Comments Off on THANK BUDGET COMMITTEES FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO MAINTAINING THE STATE’S TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: April 26, 2017

Dear Economic Lifelines Members,

The Kansas Legislature will return on May 1st to finish out the 2017 legislative session and they have a lot of work ahead of them. With the budget, taxes, school finance and many other topics before them, there will be close scrutiny of the needs of our state and many tough decisions.

With that in mind, we need you to remind your legislators about the importance of infrastructure investments to our state’s ability to respond to economic development opportunities. (Check out our updated talking points here.)

It’s critical that the legislature not allow the T-WORKS preservation program to drop to historically low levels in FY18 and that they get the state’s transportation investments back in working order.

To do that, legislators will have the opportunity to support meaningful revenue policy changes that create less reliance on transportation funds to balance the budget. We also need legislators to give the Kansas Department of Transportation additional bonding authority and flexibility to address the most critical transportation needs in our state. The budget in the house provides the bridge to T-WORKS necessary to get our state’s minimum transportation needs addressed during these challenging times.

Find your legislator and ask them to consider the importance of transportation during the veto session and to keep those critical transportation and infrastructure investments in mind as they work through the list before them during veto session.

If you have an opportunity to expose legislators to a behind the scenes look at their transportation system that we can help to arrange or if there is ever any information or assistance that we can provide, please feel free to contact me at anytime. I can be reached at tara@economiclifelines.com or by phone at (785) 969-9270.

Sincerely,
Tara Mays
Executive Director
(785) 969-9270 or tara@economiclifelines.com

P.S. While you continue to have these discussions with policymakers, please feel welcome to use the feedback tool provided on our website. We will follow up with legislators to continue the dialog about the importance of infrastructure investments to the economy.

Posted in Legislative Update | Comments Off on LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: April 26, 2017

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: March 27, 2017

Last week, Economic Lifelines – along with KAPA-KRMA, KCA, and the KS Asphalt Pavement Association – hosted a bus tour for legislators. It was an opportunity for them to learn firsthand about the current conditions of the state highway system in Topeka and the surrounding area, the cost for projects when the system hasn’t been maintained, and the need to respond to emerging needs throughout the state. We are excited to look for more opportunities such as this in the future.

This excursion was a well-timed educational opportunity as legislators take up budget and tax ideas that include hearings on things like the motor fuel tax and the budget proposal which on the House side, would allow KDOT the ability to bond to address the most critical needs until meaningful adjustments can be made to the State General Fund revenue structure and sales tax revenues are able to flow to the state highway fund.

While the legislature continues to work through budget and tax proposals we need EL members now more than ever to remind legislators that its important that they support meaningful policy changes that will allow them to restore the funding of T-WORKS back to the State Highway Fund.

Please use the following talking points when you email and call your representatives:

  • We cannot allow critical preservation levels to fall to only $44 million in FY18. This is far below the $380 million KDOT says is necessary to keep our system in its current condition.
  • The minimum preservation levels haven’t been met since FY15 and our roadway conditions will need higher levels of investment if the legislature doesn’t act now.

While both motor fuel taxes and bonding are potential options on the table to get more revenue to critical infrastructure projects, below you will find some information about each.

Motor Fuel Tax Facts

  • $0.05/gallon raises $90 million
  • Cannot be swept to fill other budget needs
  • Is a declining revenue source

Short Term Bond Facts

  • Puts $400 million back into projects over the next two years
  • Cannot be swept to fill other budget needs
  • Maintains three legs of the revenue stool for the state highway fund
  • Ties up future revenue in debt service

It is imperative that immediate action be taken to restore funding which meets minimum maintenance levels. While you continue to have these discussions with policymakers, please feel welcome to use the feedback tool provided on our website. We will follow-up with legislators to continue the dialog about the importance of infrastructure investments to the economy.
If you have an opportunity to expose legislators to a behind the scenes look at their transportation system that we can help to arrange or if there is ever any information or assistance that we can provide, please feel free to contact me at anytime.  I can be reached at tara@economiclifelines.comor by phone at (785) 969-9270.

Sincerely,
Tara Mays
Executive Director
(785) 969-9270 or tara@economiclifelines.com

Posted in Legislative Update | Comments Off on LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: March 27, 2017

UPDATE: Legislative tour & the latest from under the dome

Last week, Economic Lifelines – along with KAPA-KRMA, KCA, and the KS Asphalt Pavement Association – hosted a bus tour for legislators. It was an opportunity for them to learn firsthand about the current conditions of the state highway system in Topeka and the surrounding area, the cost for projects when the system hasn’t been maintained, and the need to respond to emerging needs throughout the state. We are excited to look for more opportunities such as this in the future.

This excursion was a well-timed educational opportunity as legislators take up budget and tax ideas that include hearings on things like the motor fuel tax and the budget proposal which on the House side, would allow KDOT the ability to bond to address the most critical needs until meaningful adjustments can be made to the State General Fund revenue structure and sales tax revenues are able to flow to the state highway fund.

While the legislature continues to work through budget and tax proposals we need EL members now more than ever to remind legislators that its important that they support meaningful policy changes that will allow them to restore the funding of T-WORKS back to the State Highway Fund.

Please use the following talking points when you email and call your representatives:

  • We cannot allow critical preservation levels to fall to only $44 million in FY18. This is far below the $380 million KDOT says is necessary to keep our system in its current condition.
  • The minimum preservation levels haven’t been met since FY15 and our roadway conditions will need higher levels of investment if the legislature doesn’t act now.

While both motor fuel taxes and bonding are potential options on the table to get more revenue to critical infrastructure projects, below you will find some information about each.

Motor Fuel Tax Facts

  • $0.05/gallon raises $90 million
  • Cannot be swept to fill other budget needs
  • Is a declining revenue source
Short Term Bond Facts
  • Puts $400 million back into projects over the next two years
  • Cannot be swept to fill other budget needs
  • Maintains three legs of the revenue stool for the state highway fund
  • Ties up future revenue in debt service

It is imperative that immediate action be taken to restore funding which meets minimum maintenance levels. While you continue to have these discussions with policymakers, please feel welcome to use the feedback tool provided on our website. We will follow-up with legislators to continue the dialog about the importance of infrastructure investments to the economy.

If you have an opportunity to expose legislators to a behind the scenes look at their transportation system that we can help to arrange or if there is ever any information or assistance that we can provide, please feel free to contact me at anytime.  I can be reached at tara@economiclifelines.comor by phone at (785) 969-9270.

Sincerely,

 
Tara Mays
Executive Director
(785) 969-9270 or tara@economiclifelines.com

Posted in From the director | Comments Off on UPDATE: Legislative tour & the latest from under the dome

UPDATE: Progress is being made but we still need your voice!

Dear Economic Lifelines members:

The Kansas Legislature returned to session this week, making further progress on the budget and exploring options in writing a new school funding formula. For transportation, it was a very good week. The KDOT budget was accepted by the full House Appropriations Committee this morning. It contains an important provision allowing for a funding “bridge” to get T-WORKS more adequately funded and eventually completed.

The measure allows KDOT to bond up to $400 million over FY18 and FY19 to address declining transportation preservation dollars. We were heartened by the committee discussion as it indicates a majority of our state lawmakers understand the negative consequences of continuing to ignore maintenance needs in transportation.

We want to thank the appropriations committee for their support of restoring critical transportation funds that will maintain the system in its current condition. Understanding that these are not easy times, and tough solutions are the only options available, the members of the appropriations and the transportation and public safety budget committee are to be commended for their leadership and for keeping every option on the table as we look for solutions to honor and complete the T-WORKS promises.

Your great work with the committee really made a difference but we need our members now more than ever. Please continue talking with legislators in the house and senate to let them know how important preserving our system is during these times. Please urge them to support the proviso that sets out a bridge to T-WORKS completion. Take a minute to tell us about those conversations!

There’s positive momentum behind this proposal but there are still many steps in the budget process. As such, your continued engagement with lawmakers to support these additional funds is critical. Here’s the link to upcoming legislative town hall meetings. We’d certainly encourage active participation in these and any other community events where you know you can visit with your state legislator.

On the funding front, the Senate introduced a 5 cent motor fuels increase and the House has introduced an 11 cent increase in motor fuel taxes. We’ll keep you posted as hearings on these measures are schedule.

Thanks again for your advocacy for transportation!

Sincerely,
Tara Mays
Executive Director
785-969-9270 or tara@economiclifelines.com

Posted in From the director, Legislative Update | Comments Off on UPDATE: Progress is being made but we still need your voice!

UPDATE: Support KDOT Budget Proviso

Dear Economic Lifelines members:

Kansas legislators are returning to the statehouse this week in hopes of spending the month of March continuing to work on a tax package. With the veto of HB 2178, the senate fell only three votes shy of a veto override after the house easily overrode the veto. What this means is that on the first try, legislators came very close to a tax compromise that is politically feasible.

The focus of statements on why the tax policy didn’t get the votes for the veto override in the senate focused on retroactivity. With that in mind, it means that there is a continued commitment from legislators to create more structural balance. If achieved, it sets the stage for less reliance on the State Highway Fund to shore up the state budget in the future. We are optimistic that legislators are committed to finding workable solutions. That job got a little more difficult in light of the Kansas Supreme Court finding late last week that state funding of K-12 public schools is inadequate and unconstitutional.

Another positive has been a generally warm reception by the House Appropriations Committee to the House Transportation and Public Safety Budget Subcommittee’s proviso to restore funds back to T-WORKS which provides for “full” preservation project lettings of $380m/year in FY18 and FY19. They plan to take the issue up in the full committee this Wednesday, March 8th. With that in mind, we encourage members to contact legislators and ask them to support the KDOT budget provisos in FY18 and FY19.

A list of Appropriation Committee Members can be found here. We encourage you to take a moment to contact these legislators and tell them that adequate funding for transportation is critical to success in Kansas. (If you don’t know your legislator, you can find their contact information here.)

We have created advocacy tool kit materials which can be found here. These materials contain a history of T-WORKS, information about the current status of the program and a look at the future.

One final request: we’d greatly appreciate getting feedback after you speak with your legislators. Please take a minute and send us your comments via this short survey after talking with legislators or policymakers. We will be sure to follow-up on your conversations to complete the feedback loop and ensure we are proactively working with policymakers during this important time.

I want to thank Economic Lifelines members for everything that you do to support infrastructure investments in Kansas. We are only as strong as our members and we are grateful to have some of the best membership around. As always, please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Tara Mays
Executive Director
Economic Lifelines

Posted in From the director, Legislative Update | Comments Off on UPDATE: Support KDOT Budget Proviso