It was recently reported that the state government in Frankfort has a 270 million dollar surplus this fiscal season. And having an extra 270 million dollars lying (or is it laying? O, the grammar!) around the capitol building ain't half bad. The trouble is, when your coffers are suddenly full of extra cash, state legislators have a hard time not immediately spending the dough (Often times on pet projects and waste).
Rewind to April 2006 when Governor Ernie Fletcher (R) vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects from the Kentucky budget so that he could save the states precarious bond rating. In cutting these projects the governor wanted to show the people who control the money in New York that Kentucky could get serious about cutting out the BS. And to be honest, he cut mostly uesless projects - Dorm renovations at the University of Louisville, a new indoor practice facility for Coach Petino (Can they not just use their soon to be built 450 million dollar downtown facilty?), extra cash for the Louisville Zoo's new Glacier Run project, delayed money for a new dental research building in downtown Louisville, plus other generally pointless projects in other regions of Kentucky.
We now find ourselves in January 2007 and all of these projects are about to be refunded in this legislative session. Does Kentucky have any sense of what is important and what isn't? The Louisville Zoo already stated that even without the extra 6 million from the state their project would go forward, the University of Louisville bonded for themselves the money for several of their vetoed projects, and the University of Kentucky in Lexington also is moving ahead with their few projects that the state vetoed in April.
Kentucky is currently sitting on several huge time bombs. One of which is the Louisville infrastructure needs of Spagetti Junction and the bridges; Northern Kentucky is also in dire need of new span to Cincinnati. Besides even those huge liabilities, the state has an underfunded public pension system, underfunded education, and underfunded healthcare systems. We're talking BILLIONS upon BILLIONS of dollars! Instead we've got places like Campellsville that is crying out for a new golf course and lodge at Green River Lake, or western Kentucky wanting yet another highway to nowhere.
This 270 million dollars is already gone, being used to refund all the pet projects from the last legislative cycle. But when will Kentucky wake up and see that we are wasting our money year after year and never getting a return on our investments?