Governor and legislative leaders to announce plans to pave the way for university projects

01/09/2013 04:54 PM

Gov. Steve Beshear and the legislative leaders will announce their support to allow the universities to move forward with selling bonds for specific projects, according to multiple legislators.

The Herald-Leader also reported that renovations to UK’s Commonwealth Stadium. Reporter Linda Blackford quoted Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell as saying that each of the universities submitted a list of projects.

Several lawmakers confirmed to Pure Politics that legislative leaders from both parties would announce their endorsement of the plan to let the universities float bonds to cover the payments for the projects. The announcement is set for 10:30 a.m. at the Capitol and will feature Beshear, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers along side five university presidents.

One of the legislators, Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, has supported past efforts to allow universities the flexibility to sell bonds that could be paid off using revenue streams — like room and board fees or athletic tickets — without the General Assembly’s approval. The legislature has always had to pass legislation giving public universities’ permission because any debt those schools take on would count toward the state’s total debt capacity.

“I have always supported the universities having flexibility to issue their own bonds. I think we have too often tried to micromanage their ability to do so. In many cases, their ratings are higher than the state’s bond rating,” Damron said.

Damron said he found out about the nature of announcement from the University of Kentucky but wasn’t notified by the governor’s office. He said he wasn’t briefed on which projects the universities will be allowed to float bonds in order to build.

Jay Blanton, spokesman for University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, referred questions to the governor’s office.

Kerri Richardson, spokeswoman for Beshear, said she couldn’t comment.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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