Local Projects on Hold While Budget Stalemate Continues

By: Jon Hardison
By: Jon Hardison

With the chances for passage of a state budget before the end of the fiscal year on June 30 all but dead, local projects like the Magna training center and WKU campus projects may be put on hold.

If the General Assembly fails to pass a final budget, Governor Fletcher would most likely enact a spending plan much as Governor Patton did during a similar situation in 2002, but that action was challenged in court, and only covers essential government services.

ITA president Jim Vance says the Governor and Speaker of the House have committed to funding a training center for Magna International, the Transpark's first tenant, but he doesn't see how that will be possible until a final budget is passed. Late last year, Magna announced its plans to bring $200 million in investment and 1100 new jobs to Warren County.

Vance says Magna will fulfill its commitment even without a training center, but the money that would have been spent on the training will be spent in another community.

WKU President Dr. Gary Ransdell is concerned about the funding for three capital projects on the university's campus:

  1. $27 million to renovate the science complex.
  2. Funding for a gifted academy for the top 200 gifted high school juniors and seniors to be hosted at WKU.
  3. The university's authority to issue its own bonds to fund projects like a new health center and the expansion of South Campus, to be funded by the school.

All of those projects will be put on indefinite hold until the budget, in whatever form it may take, passes.

Ransdell also says an upcoming tuition increases and the wave of tuition hikes over the past four years are "directly related" to the lack of new state funding for higher education, and the uncertainty of the budget situation.

The new fiscal year will begin on July 1.

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