FRANKFORT – One of state government’s biggest responsibilities is constructing and managing the very buildings that house our employees, college students, prisoners and state park visitors. It is no small job, considering that we maintain 88 million square feet of space valued at $18 billion.
To provide long-term oversight of our facility needs, the General Assembly created the Capital Planning Advisory Board back in 1990. It brings together leaders from all three branches of state government to compile a list of what they would like to see completed during the next six years and what that would cost. The board issues this report every other fall as part of the early budgetary process, with the most recent becoming public this month.
This doesn’t include road projects, which are part of a separate six-year plan, and it is important to note that only the General Assembly and the governor determine what ultimately is to be funded. Simply put, there is not enough money for everything, so like any household, the state has to prioritize.
In this month’s report, the board is recommending nearly 1,500 projects be tackled over the next six years at a cost of $21.6 billion, with our postsecondary campuses getting the lion’s share of that. A third of the total cost would be covered by the state, while the rest would be paid with federal and other funding sources.
While $21.6 billion is obviously significant, most of it would go to maintenance and renovation costs, and a little more than $5 billion would be spent on new structures. The rest would got to equipment and grant and loan programs that help non-state government entities improve or support local utilities, schools and economic development projects.
Some of the board’s recommendations would have a broad impact across the state.
About $141 million, for example, would go to modernizing Kentucky State Police’s emergency radio system, and $92 million would be used for technology upgrades at the Department of Revenue, which needs to replace outdate equipment and computer programs.
Problems tied to the quickening pace of technology are not limited to just those two agencies, of course. The report says many others use eBay as the primary supplier of parts, if the parts are even available.
The good news for the state is that a worldwide movement toward cloud-based storage and easily scalable programs run by third-party companies could make it cheaper and easier to store and access data, as long as security concerns are met.
Other projects listed in the Capital Planning Advisory Board’s report would help many of our men and women in uniform or who are veterans. About $30 million, for example, would go toward building a new veterans nursing home in Bowling Green. The most recent, our fourth, opened earlier this year in Radcliff. Another $8 million would go toward modernizing our National Guard armories, many of which are at least 40 years old.
Overall, this report will serve as a welcome guide as the governor and the General Assembly move closer to writing and then passing a budget. The governor will present his plan to the House and Senate in late January, and a final version will be adopted by mid-April. It will then go into effect for two years, beginning next July.
As that time approaches, I encourage you to let me know your views on this or any other issue affecting the state. If you would like to write, my address is Room 432F, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort KY 40601; or you can email me at [email protected].
To leave a message for me or for any legislator, call toll-free at 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.
I hope to hear from you soon.