The taxpayers of Kentucky showed their support for the Kentucky Speedway's NASCAR ambitions through $20.5 million in sales tax breaks over the next decade.
That incentive, approved at the end of last year, was designed to help the track recover up to a quarter of the cost of an expansion to attract a NASCAR race.
So far, so good.
NASCAR is a huge draw and the move rewarded Speedway's new owner for investing to play in the big time and bring the state along.
It seems, though, that Tuesday's announcement that the state will spend another $3.6 million to help solve traffic problems that mucked up its inaugural NASCAR race in July might be a bit too generous.
The track itself is spending about $7.5 million to buy 142 acres and develop it for parking.
A big chunk of the state's money, $1.2 million, is earmarked for a tunnel that will connect that new parking lot with the track itself. They're divided by Ky. 35.
It's understandable that the state is investing in widening the exit ramp to Ky. 35 and about a mile of that highway to relieve the pressures that caused backups on Interstate 71 as fans left it to get to the Speedway. That was dangerous and frustrating to both those fans and to others who were simply trying to get somewhere on the interstate.
It's more perplexing why the taxpayers of Kentucky should pay to connect one piece of privately owned property to another, particularly when we're already giving up more than $20 million in tax revenues to help the Speedway make ends meet.
There's a legitimate safety concern here, too, as thousands of people will be walking across a state highway, but the obligation to solve it should rest on the pocketbooks of Speedway investors rather than Kentucky taxpayers.
Kentucky paid dearly to help the Speedway attract a NASCAR race based largely on predictions of the tens of thousands who would come to the track. Now that the predictions turned out to be true and the track wasn't prepared, we're stepping up to foot a large part of the bill to solve the problem.
Policy makers should ask themselves if this is really fair to Kentuckians who struggle to pay their taxes, including the thousands of smaller, less colorful businesses that don't get huge tax incentives.