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Business and the Economy

Kentucky Senate Approves Economic Development Incentives Measure

Stu Johnson

The Kentucky Senate has voted 30-3 in favor of economic development incentive legislation requested by Governor Beshear. The measure appropriates $410 million in forgivable loans for job creating projects of at least $2 billion. Bill Sponsor Julie Raque Adams said the incentive money would come from a $1.7 billion trust fund surplus.

Supporting the bill is Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer. He talked about how incentives for the Toyota manufacturing plant in his home county were controversial in the late 1980’s. The Scott County lawmaker said other states are offering more lucrative deals.

“There are other states, and I think members should know, other states, deep red republican states, competing for these projects where they write a check upfront in order to attract these projects,” said Thayer.

Hopkinsville Senator Whitney Westerfield called it a first for the governor to bring legislative leaders into this type of discussion. The western Kentucky lawmaker said Beshear’s father, former Governor Steve Beshear did more to include lawmakers in the process. “Including us in opportunities to be with those leaders of those businesses to be part of that conversation. Heck, just inviting us to events. Making us a part of that process, instead of just delivering money that he needs. Conspicuously, that doesn’t happen under this governor,” said Westerfield.

No specific companies were mentioned during the floor debate. But, property in Hardin County has been noted as one possible location for such a project. Shelbyville Senator Paul Hornback voted no, expressing concern about the incentive amount. He also noted many existing successful companies in his district were not awarded incentives and they could be competing for jobs.

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