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Beshear: Veto Allows Covington Urban Campus Project to Proceed

Saying that investments in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) are too critical to ignore or delay, Gov. Steve Beshear on Friday used a line-item veto on the budget bill to guarantee funding for capital projects at each of the 16 KCTCS campuses, including a Gateway Community and Technical College project in Downtown Covington.

By eliminating prohibitive language in the budget bill, Gov. Beshear’s veto preserves funding for the agency bonds which will support these capital investments.

As a result, Gateway Community and Technical College will benefit from $11.25 million in agency bonds to support construction of an urban campus in Covington. The college has not specified what that project would be as part of its planned $80 million campus across Downtown Covington.

According to the original plans released earlier this year, the school could use the agency bonds as part of a $16 million project. Student fees would cover the pay-back of the bonds.

“In many ways, these campuses are factories that build Kentucky’s workforce, and they are long overdue for expansions, upgrades and improvements to enhance the learning environment,” Beshear said in a news release. “We have worked directly with KCTCS leaders to ensure that these projects are fiscally responsible and will directly benefit students. I’m proud to save these projects, so that the tens of thousands of students who utilize these schools will have better facilities in which to pursue their education.”

The Governor’s agency bond plan includes an historic $145.5 million proposal that represents the single-largest investment in the KCTCS system since its formation. Paired with the local “match,” the bonds will finance almost $200 million in construction across the Commonwealth.

Nearly 100,000 students access education through the two-year system and its 16 colleges and 73 campuses.

“These students aren’t just recent high school graduates – they’re also working adults looking to advance their skills and adults needing to get back into the workforce,” Beshear said. “Under their current infrastructure, there is no way the two-year colleges can handle this huge task, and there is no way that these infrastructure needs can be met only by the General Fund.”

The Governor recommended a plan proposed by the leaders at KCTCS – to allow these colleges to use agency bonds for the first time ever to fund 75 percent of the cost of 16 critical projects. The colleges themselves will fund the other 25 percent using more traditional funds and/or private funds gathered through fundraising campaigns.

This is a perfect example of the public and private sectors working in concert, and KCTCS leaders say the debt service will not add to the cost of an education in any meaningful way, the Governor said.

Photo: Future home of Gateway Community & Technical College programs and bookstore at the southeast corner of Pike Street & Madison Avenue/RCN file