Ongoing money grabs from the Kansas Department of Transportation have taken a toll.
Gov. Sam Brownback turned the diversion of those funds into an art form as a way to address his self-inflicted budget crisis. As a result, road maintenance and improvement projects have stalled statewide.
But that didnít keep the governor from crowing recently about a report listing Kansas No. 3 nationwide in infrastructure performance and cost-effectiveness ó even though the impressive result was a testimonial to investment by previous policymakers.
Indeed, it was disingenuous for Brownback to take credit for road quality heís out to ruin.
His signature income tax-cut legislation in 2012 started the state on the wrong path. As intended, the lost tax revenue gave his band of ultraconservatives an excuse to starve government by slashing spending for core services ó infrastructure included.
Earlier this year, 24 road projects were shelved statewide, to include the needed widening of stretches of U.S. highways 50 and 54 in southwest Kansas.
On Monday the KDOT postponed another 24 road projects, including one in Finney County, in response to more dismal budget news in a nearly $350 million budget gap this fiscal year.
The KDOT also announced it would have to weigh planned road projects on a month-to-month basis due to the budget fiasco.
With no hope of Kansas making ends meet this year without additional deep cuts to various state agencies, still more road projects will be scrapped.
Cancelled highway upkeep undoubtedly will diminish the quality of Kansas roads.
But state lawmakers aligned with the governor actually argued it was OK to put off projects because roads currently are in good shape ó irresponsible and shortsighted thinking thatís become all too common in the Kansas Statehouse.
Moving forward, a Kansas Legislature with far fewer Brownback supporters will view issues in a more responsible way. While thatís welcome, even repeal of the governorís reckless tax cuts wouldnít generate sufficient revenue quickly enough to fix state budget woes.
As lawmakers address the mess, the hope is restoration of prudent investment in our stateís infrastructure returns to the list of priorities as soon as possible.
Kansas cannot afford to continue going backward.