Republicans say House majority took a detour around GOP projects as part of road plan

03/18/2014 04:01 PM

House Republicans accused Democrats of slashing GOP projects from the governor’s road plan, and then voted the slimmed down list of paving projects off the House floor 51 to 43 on the same day.

“It is a disgrace to be a member of this body today,” said Minority Whip Rep. Bam Carney of Campbellsville after he read through the House Democrats version of the two-year road plan.

The plan contains $4.5 billion in road and bridge projects over the next two fiscal years.

Carney said the move to change the road plan was retribution for voting against a gas tax increase that is part of a revenue bill that accompanied the two-year the state budget plan last week.

“I understand that’s how it works,” Carney said after a House budget committee meeting. “We’re going to be the majority one day soon. I’m convinced of that, because people are tired of the status quo. And if we act the same way this group does I will go home.”

Transportation Sub-Committee Chair Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville told reporters that the governor’s version of the budget needed to be significantly trimmed down, but that it was because of too many unfunded projects.

“The ultimate goal was to come up with $1 billion and we managed to find $800 million,” Combs said of the challenge within the budget.

“I think the way we’ve done the road plan is spread out very, very well across the entire commonwealth. I think the citizens will benefit greatly in all areas,” she said.

Combs said the road funding plan, which was passed out to GOP members at the meeting in the form of a committee substitute, funds the Mountain Parkway expansion but has to extend the timeline for the project. While the project will now take longer, Combs said it will come at a $235 million cost savings to taxpayers.

The two- and six-year road plans also will fund the Ohio River Bridge projects, Combs said. However, one bridge which was left out of the long term funding plan — the proposed companion to the Brent Spence Bridge in Northern Kentucky.

The governor had included a $1.3 billion plan financed by tolls, but that language was pulled from the plan entirely.

Combs said the funding plan would’ve been moot anyway with the House voting to not allow tolling on interstate highways between Kentucky and Ohio on Monday.

The plan now heads to the Senate.


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