Ky State Senate Sets Debt Ceiling for Future

Feb 27, 2015

Owensboro Senator Joe Bowen on the Senate Floor Friday
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News

A bill intended to reduce state debt over time is on its way to the Kentucky House.  The Senate voted 28-8 Friday in favor of the measure, which limits general fund supported debt to six percent. 

Sponsor Joe Bowen says, taking into account courthouse construction borrowing, the Commonwealth's current debt ratio is eight percent.  Somerset Senator Chris Girdler says attitudes about borrowing are troubling.  "It reminds me of the T.V. show, 'Are YouSmarter than a Fifth Grader?'  It's a simple philosophy, debt is bad, saving is good,” said Girdler. “And I feel like Mr. President sometimes; we need to repeat that to ourselves.  Debt is bad, saving is good."

Senate Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones voted no, saying the measure could be considered unconstitutional.  He says it would tie the hands of future general assemblies to address potential problems.  Jessamine County Senator Tom Buford also cast a no vote.  "I think it would be very contradictive to vote for this, and then turn around next week and make another vote to expand our needs," said Buford.

Buford says senators will be asked next week to approve borrowing to the tune of $130 million.  Senate President Robert Stivers defended his yes vote, saying there are still reasons to approve borrowing.  He cited current legislation to support construction of a research facility at the University of Kentucky that would focus on cancer and other serious diseases.​