FRANKFORT, Ky. (6/14/13) – Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo said that the use of excess multi-county coal severance revenue to move Rupp Arena renovations forward is not an unprecedented concept, and that he will also work to see the $2.5 million is re-paid as the Fayette County project moves forward.
“In the wake of Wednesday’s story about this issue, I want to first clarify that the multi-county coal severance fund is not used by counties to fund every-day expenses, and there is traditionally a surplus in that account from one budget cycle to the next,” said Speaker Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. “The multi-county fund was created to improve and assist coal and non-coal counties alike. Some of the more recent examples of projects benefiting non-coal counties include $355,750 to improve broadband coverage and about $2 million for regional industrial projects. Another internet-based initiative funded by coal severance money helps counties beyond the coalfields as well.
“I believe all of these are worthwhile and will have a positive impact. At the same time, there was broad agreement that the Rupp Arena project needed to move forward as well,” Speaker Stumbo added.
“Governor Beshear and the House both included $3.5 million in their budget proposals, with the money to come from bonds that would be paid back from the state’s General Fund. This is a sensible approach, because bonds will be issued to cover the sizeable cost needed to pay for all of the planned renovations. The Senate, however, refused to agree to this approach, so if the Rupp Arena renovations were going to stay on target, we had to find the revenue somewhere. Both House and Senate leaders agreed in a bipartisan way that this excess revenue in the multi-county coal severance fund could help us bridge that gap. When the bonds for renovating Rupp are issued, though, I fully intend to see that the money is replaced back into the multi-county fund, making it more of a loan than a grant.”
“I have fought my whole career in public service for our coal counties and will continue to do so,” he added. “While not what the House originally wanted, this approach on Rupp will not hinder any project in a coal county, and I would not have supported it if I thought it did.”
Information provided by Brian Wilkerson
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