Lawmaker: Lexington A Big Loser In Senate Budget
A Kentucky senator says Lexington was the real loser in the two-year spending plan passed by the Republican-led Senate Wednesday. In addition to reinstated cuts to the state appropriation for the University of Kentucky and other public education institutions, the upper chamber also stripped out a provision issuing $60 million in bonds for renovations of the Lexington Convention Center.
Sen. Reggie Thomas was blunt in his assessment. "What this budget does is shoot a hole in the city of Lexington and our growth will be retarded and I cannot in good conscience support that," Thomas declared.
If revived during House and Senate budget negotiations, the financing plan would allow Lexington to hike its hotel tax by 2.5 percent to help fund the $250 million dollar proposed overhaul of the center. Senate President Robert Stivers sounded a skeptical note, saying the city has run surpluses in recent years and put those dollars toward other projects.
"Tell me when I have added these totals up why they need that money...why they cannot finance it with their current revenue structure?" Stivers retorted.
The General Assembly approved a similar funding plan for the convention center in Louisville in 2014, though Stivers says that only allowed a preexisting tax to be directed to the project.