Kentucky House approves bill to limit election-year road spending

| 3/13/2008

In an effort to help funding for roads, the Kentucky House overwhelmingly approved a bill that is intended to prevent political abuse of emergency road funds during gubernatorial election years.

House lawmakers voted 94-1 to advance a bill to the state’s Senate that would limit the amount that could be spent from the fund during years in which a governor is elected.

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

Sponsored by Rep. Keith Hall, D-Pikeville, the measure would 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. Exceptions would be made for emergency repairs and economic development projects.

The emergency road fund account had about $67 million when the new fiscal year began last July. Fletcher spent most of the money before he left office. As a result, Beshear’s administration was left to make do with $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.

The bill – HB446 – is awaiting consideration in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor