Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law Thursday a measure allowing state universities to borrow $363 million to build or renovate 11 projects across the state. House Bill 7 lets the schools use their own money to pay back the bonds instead of using state General Fund money.
The projects include residence halls and student centers, although the bulk of the money, about $275 million, will be spent at the University of Kentucky. Those projects include a $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium and other football facilities, a $65 million renovation of the Gatton School of Business and a new $100 million science building. UK Athletics has pledged to pay for the stadium renovation and about $65 million for the science building construction.
Beshear and legislators praised the "innovative financing," which garnered broad bipartisan support. HB 7 is the first bill to win the General Assembly's approval in 2013.
"It feels good when the system works, and the system worked very well here," Beshear said during a Capitol ceremony.
UK President Eli Capilouto thanked Beshear and the nearly 50 legislators who gathered for the signing.
"Regardless of how difficult things are, we cannot dream too little dreams," he said.
Most of the UK projects will be finished in 2015-16, but design and some construction is supposed to start immediately.