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October 25, 2016 10:40 AM, EDT

Richard Carlson Elevated to Permanent Kansas DOT Chief

Richard Carlson, acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation since Mike King resigned under fire on July 15, had the acting part of his title removed by Gov. Sam Brownback on Oct. 24. However, the State Senate still must confirm the appointment.

Richard Carlson

“I appreciate his commitment to serving the state and know that he will be a strong and positive leader for KDOT,” Brownback said of Carlson, who served 10 years in Kansas’ House where he was chairman of where he was chairman of the Appropriations, Tax and Labor committees at various times.

“I appreciate Gov. Brownback's confidence in my management abilities,” Carlson responded. “I look forward continuing to oversee our outstanding Kansas transportation system, recognized as one of the best in the nation.”

However during King’s tenure, Brownback and the Legislature diverted huge portions of sales tax revenue designated for highways and bridges, including $553 million this year, because of an ongoing state budget deficit.

“The transportation program passed in 2009 is in shambles,” Tom Whitaker, executive director of Kansas Motor Carriers Association, told Transport Topics in June.

In a column in The Topeka Capital-Journal on Oct. 20, Deb Miller, KDOT secretary under Govs. Kathleen Sebelius and Brownback, blasted the latter about transportation funding.

“For 25 years, Kansas had bipartisan support for transportation from five governors from both parties,” Miller wrote. “But Brownback has abandoned that commitment. And soon, we’ll all be paying the price for it with rougher roads, higher debt and lost economic opportunity.”

In a column the next day, Carlson responded, “At KDOT, we will continue to build and maintain world-class roads.”