Gov. Beshear uses veto pen to ax public private partnership bill; give back flexibility to KCTCS

04/11/2014 05:20 PM

Governor Steve Beshear on Friday struck down an entire bill aimed at encouraging public-private partnerships because of language excluding tolls from the Northern Kentucky bridge project, and he vetoed a provision in the budget to allow for more community college projects.

The public-private-partnership bill, nicknamed P-3, would follow the example set by the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky set when they built new dorms using private firms. Private companies are then paid back using income from residence fees.

The bill was amended to prevent it from applying to a proposed $2.6 billion bridge to carry I-75 and I-71 traffic across the Ohio River between Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. Many Northern Kentucky legislators are opposed to tolls, which would be used to collect money to pay back private companies that help cover the cost of the bridge.

But that language is what caused the veto according to an accompanying message from Beshear.

“I am vetoing this bill because it encumbers an otherwise well intentioned policy measure with unnecessary elements relating to a single, near term project, which should not be enshrined into permanent law,” Beshear wrote.

“It further expressly prohibits the use of tolls to fund a project to construct a replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge. It is imprudent to eliminate any potential means of financing construction of such a vital piece of infrastructure that serves not only the Commonwealth and the State of Ohio, but also the eastern United States.”

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying they were “genuinely disappointed” with the veto and they would begin lobbying to revive the bill.

“It was one of the few bills passed by the 2014 General Assembly that would directly lead to job creation in Kentucky and was passed in an overwhelming bi-partisan manner. The Kentucky Chamber and more than 30 association partners from across the state will immediately and aggressively be asking the General Assembly to override this ill-advised veto,” a statement said.

The governor also line-item vetoed a portion of the compromise budget which related to the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. KCTCS has 16 regional campuses and Beshear re-inserted bonding to carry out renovation projects.

Three-quarters of the costs of the projects for the schools will be covered by $145.5 million in bonds. The other 25 percent is slated to come from communities and private sources. When the legislation was first announced, KCTCS officials said they would assess an additional $8 per-credit-hour fee to students at the colleges to go toward paying back those bonds.

“Removing the limiting language will ensure that each campus will be able to take advantage of the $145.5 million in authorized agency bonds, available to KCTCS for the first time,” said Beshear.


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