University projects bill passes House, heads to Senate

FRANKFORT—Legislation to allow state college and university building projects to proceed without state budget authorization is on its way to the Senate.

House Bill 265 would allow state postsecondary capital projects funded with restricted funds, agency funds, federal funds or private funds to be exempt from the state budget process as long as the projects are approved by the college’s or university’s governing board and the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), and presented to the state legislative Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee.

All of the project costs would be the responsibility of the college or university, not the state.

“If they can support projects 100 percent with their restricted funds, agency funds or a combination of restricted funds, agency funds, and federal funds—they can bond projects,” said HB 265 sponsor Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville.

The House amended the bill to require state college or universities to have a debt policy in place before issuing debt not authorized in the state budget. That amendment, sponsored by Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, would also require the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee to determine whether the institution can support the project on its own. The committee would then either approve the project or request more information, which could delay approval, said Montell.

“Should a university default on these bonds then ultimately that goes back to the taxpayers,” he said. “So I do think we have to proceed with caution as we move forward.”

HB 265 passed the House today by a vote of 93-0 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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