Corbin H. Crable
Motorists driving down Old 56 Highway and U.S. 56 will see more change throughout the summer, but not for a few more weeks.
Gardner Public Works Director David Greene updated the Gardner City Council on road projects at the council’s meeting Monday night. He said road crews plan to restore traffic at the Old 56 Highway and U.S. 56 intersection to its former lanes in early July, but the city is still waiting to receive traffic signals and related materials. Those should arrive shortly after the Fourth of July holiday. As of right now, the stretch of road just east of Moonlight has been decreased to one lane both ways.
The completed project, Greene said, will include an eastbound right turn lane, a concrete median and a traffic signal.
Greene also updated the council on the Madison Street overlay project. The city, shortly after this weekend’s Festival on the Trails event, is expected to close the street between Center and east Spruce. Completion of the project should take no longer than a month, and Greene said work on Madison is expected to be finished by the time the Johnson County Fair comes to town in August.
Kiegerl addresses council
The council also heard from Rep. Mike Kiegerl (R-Olathe) on Monday evening. Kiegerl, who recently announced he would run for a fourth and final term as a representative for the state’s 43rd District, spoke about the most recent legislative session, its successes and failures.
“On the whole, the session was a disappointment,” Kiegerl said.
Kiegerl told council members that legislators originally had developed a state budget that included no tax increases, but it would have increased expenditures for the state’s schools and social service organizations.
The original budget also proposed a 5 percent pay cut for state employees and a pay freeze for public sector employees.
But Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson told legislators he would not sign off on a budget that did not include a sales tax increase, Kiegerl said.
Parkinson’s sales tax increase amounts to an additional $30 more paid by single family households each month. The increase will go into effect with the beginning of the upcoming fiscal year on July 1.
Kiegerl said he voted against the revised budget.
“I believe the budget we had proposed was reasonable,” he said. “What we’ve done is make things worse. I can’t say we did a good job for the people of this state.”
Kiegerl, who said he also voted against the state’s controversial transportation bill, said Kansans can expect more financial uncertainty in the next fiscal year.
“We’re going to have a larger shortfall next year. We did not make the structural changes we needed to make,” he said, adding those changes include a funding formula for the state’s schools.
Despite the challenges, there were some victories for the House, Kiegerl said. Chief among them was securing an increase of more than $9 million in funding for the care of the developmentally disabled and children with autism.
Kiegerl, a staunch advocate for developmentally disabled children, said he was proud of the move.
“If we don’t speak for those who need it most, no one will,” he said.
Another victory for the House, although short-lived, was its overriding of Parkinson’s veto on a late-term abortions bill that would require Kansas to enforce existing abortion laws, he said. When that veto override made its way to the Senate, however, it failed by a single vote.
Kiegerl ended his presentation with voicing his intention to introduce a measure reducing the number of representatives in the House from 125 to 65. He did not go into detail on why he planned to introduce the measure but said he “doesn’t think it will go anywhere.”
Kiegerl’s campaign slogan for his final term is “One more time, one last time.”
Area voters will go to the polls this November.
On the Web: www.mikekiegerl.com