House sends Senate the university projects bill with Commonwealth Stadium

02/07/2013 02:01 PM

FRANKFORT — The bill giving six universities the go-ahead to construct new buildings and upgrade old ones — including Commonwealth Stadium at the University of Kentucky — now heads to the Senate after the House approved it Thursday, 97-1.

Rep. Toby Herald, R-Beattyville, was the lone “no” vote.

The bill is poised to cruise through the General Assembly. It gives permission for six of the public universities to sell bonds to cover the construction costs of 11 projects.

Each has a dedicated revenue stream. In the University of Kentucky’s case, athletics revenue will cover the payments on the $110 million in bonds to fund upgrades to Commonwealth Stadium. Athletics revenue also will pay for two-thirds of the cost of the $100 million proposed new academic science building. Private donations will cover the bulk of the $40 million in bonds for renovations to the UK Gatton College of Business.

Gov. Steve Beshear, who endorsed the proposal after heavy lobbying led by UK President Eli Capilouto, praised the House’s action, saying that once it becomes law it would create “more than 5,100 jobs – all at no cost to the state’s General Fund.”

“At a time when we are pushing our students to pursue higher education, it’s imperative that they have adequate classrooms, housing and facilities, and the issuance of these bonds will accelerate those projects to meet those needs quickly,” Beshear said.

The universities need approval by the General Assembly to sell bonds because it’s counted against the state’s total debt.

The list of the other projects includes:
$9.2 million renovation to Morehead State’s Mignon residence hall
$9.9 million renovation to Murray State’s Hester College dorm
$590,000 sprinkler system upgrade at Murray State
$4.9 million in facility improvements at Murray State
$12 million in residence hall acquisition and renovation at Northern Kentucky University
$45 million for Albright Health Center renovations at NKU
$9.6 million for University of Louisville student activities center
$22 million for Western Kentucky University honors college and international center

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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