Kentucky bill to limit election-year road spending dies

| 5/1/2008

An effort that has died in the Kentucky Senate was intended to prevent political abuse of emergency road funds during gubernatorial election years.

Sponsored by Rep. Keith Hall, D-Pikeville, the bill remained in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee when the regular session wrapped up. The House previously approved it on a 94-1 vote.

Supporters cited actions from former Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a Republican, during the 2007 election season for pursuing the legislation. As a result, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear was left with inadequate revenue in the fund, they said.

The measure – HB446 – sought to prohibit governors from spending more than half of the highway construction contingency fund in the first six months of a fiscal year during a gubernatorial election year. Exceptions would have been made for emergency repairs and economic development projects.

The emergency road fund account had about $67 million when the new fiscal year began in July 2007. Fletcher spent most of the money before he left office. As a result, Beshear’s administration was left with only $309,000 for the final six months of the fiscal year.

Beshear is dipping into highway maintenance funds to cover urgent projects until the start of the new fiscal year in July.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Kentucky in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor