Speaker Hoover selects representatives to examine state's infrastructure needs

06/28/2017 04:17 PM

FRANKFORT – House Speaker Jeff Hoover has tasked a work group with examining the state’s infrastructure needs amid dwindling Road Fund receipts.

Hoover, R-Jamestown, announced the group during a news conference in the Capitol Annex Wednesday. He said the group’s efforts will be needed as the General Assembly heads into a budget-writing session next year, but he added that they ultimately may not suggest legislative changes.

Hoover noted that the road fund has declined by about $80 million since 2014 and said he hoped the group can make its recommendations to the legislature by December.

“This is a bipartisan group,” he said. “I have met with them, talked with them and shared with them that I have no preconceived notion or idea or solution.

“This is something I want each of them to work hard on, and I know they will. That’s why they were chosen, and they will start meeting to try and understand the depth of the problem, to start meeting with interested stakeholders, looking at other states, maybe working with the National Conference of State Legislatures about different ideas that they may have, and try to come in December and share with the entire General Assembly, specifically the House, of some of their findings and some of their recommendations.”

Hoover didn’t want to pinpoint any particular issue affecting the state’s infrastructure, but he noted that some pieces of the Road Fund are governed by laws that were written in the 1970s and that electric vehicles don’t pay into the fund.

The formation of the new House workgroup comes two days after the Transportation Cabinet released its priority list of infrastructure projects as part of its Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow initiative. Hoover said the group’s efforts wouldn’t supersede the SHIFT proposal, but would rather work “hand-in-hand” with it.

“I have commended (Transportation Cabinet Secretary Greg Thomas) for at least beginning to try and look at our road projects and our road needs in some objective standard,” Hoover said. “Now that prioritization is based on the data that was inputted, and not really sure what all that data was, but at least it was an attempt to start looking at our road projects on some objective basis. Do we change the data? Do we change some of that input that results in the prioritization? I don’t know, but I think these would work hand-in-hand.”

The group will be co-chaired by Rep. Sal Santoro, R-Florence, and Rep. John Sims, D-Flemingsburg. Reps. Marie Rader, a McKee Republican and chair of the House Transportation Committee; Matt Castlen, R-Maceo; Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg; Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown; Phil Moffett, R-Louisville; Bart Rowland, R-Tompkinsville; and Attica Scott, D-Louisville, will also serve on the panel, Hoover said.

“We’re going to make sure (Kentuckians) travel safely, and we need to move our commerce,” Santoro said. “That is very, very important. This is going to be planning, funding mechanism, everything we’re going to look at, so don’t think we’re not going to shake the bushes. We are.”

Sims said lawmakers named to the workgroup as “ready to get out and work with people, different groups and hopefully find some solutions.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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