Fletcher's $370 Million Cuts Meet Opposition - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Fletcher's $370 Million Cuts Meet Opposition

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

UPDATE, WED, 7:00 AM: Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher's budget veto has sparked some anger among western Kentucky leaders.

Leaders from several counties and four state senators plan to meet Wednesday, to protest the governor's veto of coal severance projects in western Kentucky.

Phase two of the new Tech Center at Owensboro Community College was also a victim of the governor's budget ax, and that has Daviess County leaders upset. Owensboro officials say the Tech Center is the only project they asked for and they believe they were singled out unfairly.

Todd Inman of the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce says, "We, as a community, came together for a project that crossed political, socioeconomic, and demographic lines. For one person to cut that and to exercise, is not the way I think our Constitution was framed."

Fletcher responds, "We will get to completing that eventually, but we've got some other areas."

Tuesday night, Governor Fletcher told the Associated Press he held back when trimming $370 million from the state budget. Fletcher said he tried to be fair when assessing what needed to go from the state's proposed $18.1 billion spending plan.

The governor said he thinks lawmakers would have upheld his cuts even if the General Assembly hadn't ended before sending the budget to Fletcher.

Previously: Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher's pen got a workout Monday, when he cut $370 million in construction projects from the state budget.

That includes more than $18 million in western Kentucky projects.

One of the casualties is a $14 million appropriation for the second phase of the Tech Center in Owensboro. The funding would have allowed construction of the facility to be completed including classrooms, business incubators and an expansion of Western Kentucky University.

Fletcher says the cutbacks will keep taxes down in the future. "Just as heavy cargo makes ships float lower and more vulnerable to high seas, too much debt also increases risk. The next time storm clouds hang over our economy, we'll have to choose between tax increases and cutbacks in critical services if we don't decrease our debt."

Other projects cut from the budget: $4 million for a new Tech Center at Madisonville Community College, and $200,000 for park improvements and a miniature golf course at Lake Malone State Park in Muhlenberg County.

The governor said he made the cuts because he's worried about amount of debt the state's new spending plan called for.

And on Tuesday, he'll make a stop in Muhlenberg County, where Greenville officials announced a new industry. Gourmet Express LLC will invest more than $7 million in the Commonwealth to move its manufacturing operation from Gridley, Illinois. It will mean 200 new jobs within two years.

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