Debt is not a dirty word, especially when low interest rates make this an opportune time to finance construction.
If the University of Kentucky has the wherewithal to borrow money to rebuild its crumbling campus, the legislature should let it. The budget conference committee should authorize UK to use its own money for capital projects, as President Eli Capilouto requested and Gov. Steve Beshear proposed.
This would be a departure from the past at a time when the economy is still scary and government deficits are a genuine concern — just the time to be creative and strategic.
With this budget, the legislature will have cut UK by $51 million over four years.
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Capilouto recognizes that UK must look within its vast, diverse operation for opportunities to generate revenue.
The $200-million authorization requested by Capilouto would raise UK's debt to a modest 4 percent of operating revenues.
As it stands now, if a donor offered to pay three-quarters of the cost of a new science building if UK put up the rest, Capilouto would have to say "no" until the legislature met again and authorized the project. That's a ridiculous predicament in 2012, especially when the donor could find plenty of instant takers.