Congratulations to the Herald-Leader for having the courage to publish its April 7 editorial “Kentucky taxpayers hostage to arena deal.”
Unfortunately, the writer is likely unaware that the new “Yum! Center Bailout Bill,” as House Bill 330 is so affectionately referred to, will cost state taxpayers more than $1.2 billion and extend for 12 years beyond Dec. 1, 2042, the time the bonds are paid off.
During the legislative process that ended March 30, HB 330, which extends the state subsidy of the arena from 20 years to 45 years absent a cap, suddenly became “an emergency” measure, and lawmakers were inaccurately told that “if you don’t vote aye, the Yum! Center will have to immediately file bankruptcy.” A total fabrication.
Rep. Jim Wayne said, “If this story goes national, we will all look stupid.”
Owensboro Sen. Joe Bowen said, “Given Kentucky’s terrible pension crisis that must be addressed, this is totally irresponsible.”
Other communities conduct referenda for stadiums and arenas, allowing taxpayers a choice. Unfortunately, in Kentucky, everything seems to be done surreptitiously, leaving taxpayers in the dark.
To date there has been more than $168 million in taxpayer subsidies to the Yum Center. That will pale in comparison to what our state legislators have voted to spend.