Too important to lose

Published:

We fully understand that many items added and subtracted from the state budget by both the House and Senate are for negotiating purposes when senators and representatives meet to iron out their differences and produce a final budget bill that is acceptable to both chambers.

Those negotiations are now underway.

But the budget passed Tuesday by the Senate dropped funding for several key projects in the capital city that should not be subject to the game of budget politics.

One of those is $8 million for desperately needed new space at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives building on Coffeetree Road. The 20-plus-year-old building is literally bursting at the seams with records, much of it important archives involving state government, including the General Assembly.

Last year, space limitations became so severe that stacks for books were installed in the lobby of the building to make room available for archive storage elsewhere. That effort was brought to a halt because of lack of sprinklers in the lobby.

If Dr. Thomas Clark were still alive, we expect the Senate would not have eliminated the state library expansion. Surely, out of an $18 billion spending plan, $8 million can be found to provide for adequate storage of state governments records.

Another key local project is the renovation of Hathaway Hall at Kentucky State University. The cost is $4.9 million, far less than what it would cost to build an entirely new dormitory.

Hathaway Hall is old. It most definitely shows decades of student use and is hardly a place parents of prospective students want their child to live. Its renovation was one of the top priorities of KSU President Mary Sias when she arrived on campus two years ago.

Indeed, were certain that legislators on the budget conference committee would agree if they were to take a tour of Hathaway Hall and the Libraries and Archives building. Theyre not far from the Capitol and each other. Were equally certain Sias and State Librarian Jim Nelson would be more than happy to give the conference committee guided tours of each building.

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