Says he will push to re-pay it
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 13, 2013) — Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Thursday that the use of excess multi-county coal severance revenue to move Rupp Arena renovations forward is not an unprecedented concept, and that he will work to see the $2.5 million is re-paid as the Fayette County project moves forward.
“In the wake of Wednesday’s story about this issue, I want to first clarify that the multi-county coal severance fund is not used by counties to fund every-day expenses, and there is traditionally a surplus in that account from one budget cycle to the next,” Stumbo said. “The multi-county fund was created to improve and assist coal and non-coal counties alike. Some of the more recent examples of projects benefiting non-coal counties include $355,750 to improve broadband coverage and about $2 million for regional industrial projects. Another internet-based initiative funded by coal severance money helps counties beyond the coalfields as well.
“I believe all of these are worthwhile and will have a positive impact,” he added. “At the same time, there was broad agreement that the Rupp Arena project needed to move forward as well.”
Gov. Steve Beshear and the House of Representatives included $3.5 million in their budget proposals, with the money to come from bonds that would be paid back from the state’s General Fund, which Stumbo called a “sensible approach, because bonds will be issued to cover the sizeable cost needed to pay for all of the planned renovations.”
“The Senate, however, refused to agree to this approach, so if the Rupp Arena renovations were going to stay on target, we had to find the revenue somewhere,” he said. “Both House and Senate leaders agreed in a bipartisan way that this excess revenue in the multi-county coal severance fund could help us bridge that gap. When the bonds for renovating Rupp are issued, though, I fully intend to see that the money is replaced back into the multi-county fund, making it more of a loan than a grant.”
The Rupp Arena funding will not hinder any project in a coal county, Stumbo said.