BRADENTON, Fla. - Kentucky legislators, unable to agree on a biennial budget, will go to conference to settle the bottom line and major differences in the amount of the bonds to be authorized.
The Senate approved a $20.3 billion general fund budget and $263 million of bonds in its bill March 24. The total budget figure was not available at press time.
They stripped from the House's plan $65 million in financing for major renovation and expansion plans at Rupp Arena and the adjacent Lexington Convention Center, as well as $56 million for the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville.
There are also major differences between the chambers on funding priorities.
The House included funds for the arena and convention centers in its version of the $20 billion budget for the general fund, which was approved on March 13 with more than $1 billion of debt.
Gov. Steve Beshear also included the arena and convention centers in his proposed 2014-2016 budget totaling $68 billion. It included nearly $2 billion in bonding with $1.58 billion earmarked for educational needs.
The renovation and expansion plans at Rupp, home of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, and the convention center are expected to cost more than $300 million.
While the plan of finance is not complete, according to Rupp Arena Arts & Entertainment District's website, officials reportedly are considering tax increment financing and other funds for the project.
The Kentucky State Fair Board, which manages the International Convention Center, wants to do $180 million in improvements "to prevent market loss and erosion of room night generating events," its 2014-2016 business plan said.
The Kentucky legislative session ends April 15.