A dormant plan to merge the Kansas Turnpike Authority into Kansas Department of Transportation will be revived in the state Senate, leaders said at a news conference last week.

Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said KTA's $90 million reserve account indicates that motorists are paying too much.

"I think the tolls exceed the needs of the turnpike," Wagle said. "I think when the public gets a chance to look at that budget and it's more transparent, they'll be glad."

The Authority has $268 million of outstanding revenue debt rated Aa3 by Moody's Investors Service and AA-minus by Standard & Poor's.

Gov. Sam Brownback proposed the merger earlier this year, but the House rejected the governor's plan in favor of requiring more cooperation and coordination between KDOT and the Authority.

Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said the merger would save $30 million over the next two fiscal years.

"This move would allow our state's highway system to be managed in a more efficient manner that draws upon the expertise of both and result in significant savings," she said.

Wagle said the merger was a good idea.

"I think the right thing to do is to merge it and have the state overseeing that budget," Wagle said. "There is absolutely no financial oversight in the Legislature."

The 236-mile Kansas Turnpike is the only toll road in the state.

Turnpike tolls for most vehicles went up an average of 10% last month. It costs $12 to travel the full length of the Kansas Turnpike.

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