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No Billion Dollar Blank Checks for KCI

Mar 21, 2016
E-Newsletters
Straight Talk with Sam

It’s hard to know what – or who – to trust in the debate over Kansas City International Airport.

The Kansas City Aviation Department spent $258 million renovating KCI in 2004. Today, 12 years later, their debt still sits at about $200 million.

But rather than paying off the airport’s debt, the Aviation Department has their eyes set on spending more money – and convincing Kansas City that their plan is the only one that can save KCI.

The Aviation Department wants to redesign an airport that people like because of its design. They’re going to complicate KCI when it consistently ranks as one of the most convenient in the country. And in the end, Kansas City will be left with a completely different airport than the one that’s so popular today. 

As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I recognize the long, important process that the Aviation Department is undertaking, and I think we should work to find a compromise that will help modernize and improve KCI. But the Department long ago decided it wants to build a $1 billion terminal. It’s the only plan they were ever going to accept, and they’re willing to do – or say – whatever it takes to get their way.

They claim that their single terminal plan is the only option because spending $1 billion to build a new airport from scratch would be cheaper than renovating the 3 we already have. I don’t buy it.

And they claim that no tax dollars would be used to fund the project, but they fail to acknowledge the $49 million from the federal government they are relying on to complete construction. These are taxpayer dollars, and I don’t want to see them wasted on an unnecessary project.

The simple fact is this: we just spent a quarter of a billion dollars renovating KCI a decade ago, and now this Department wants another blank check. We should be looking to repair KCI, but there is a better way. It starts with an open, honest, and transparent process.

Nothing the Aviation Department has done in the past has given us a reason to trust them. Why would we start now? 

Sincerely,
 
Sam Graves