FRANKFORT — Key road projects may come to a halt if lawmakers fail to pass a road budget during next week's special legislative session, Gov. Steve Beshear warned legislative leaders on Friday.
In a letter to House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, Beshear stressed that if a two-year or six-year road plan is not passed the consequences are "immense."
Work on important road projects would stop and road fund money that goes to local counties and cities would be interrupted at a time when "local governments can least afford the interruption."
Beshear also stressed that the state was refinancing its debt, including $64 million in borrowing for road projects. If those savings aren't realized, $64 million would have to be cut from an already lean road budget, Beshear said in the Thursday letter.
Legislators return to Frankfort on Monday to address a two-year executive branch budget after the General Assembly adjourned in April without a budget agreement. Stumbo and Williams have said they believe there is enough support for a Beshear-proposed compromise budget that calls for 3.5 percent cuts to most state agencies in the first year of the budget and 4.5 percent cuts in the second year of the budget.
But both leaders have said there are differences between the House and Senate versions of the road plans and that it's unlikely the two sides will come to an agreement during the special legislative session, which is expected to last five days.
If the two sides can't agree, Beshear recommended that they pass the administration's road plan, which Beshear unveiled in February and was based on the 2009 road plan that passed both the House and Senate.
Stumbo has said he is not opposed to using Beshear's plan if no compromise between the two sides is reached. Williams said Thursday that he believes that one way or another "we will have a road plan."
There is also a Franklin Circuit Court case that says if no road budget is passed, the road plan that the governor originally filed at the start of the legislative session would become the "de facto" road plan for the state.