Kentucky House Leader urges investigation of Kentucky Wired
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)- House Speaker Pro-Tem David Osborne has filed a resolution requesting and immediate investigation into Kentucky Wired.
Kentucky Wired was created in 2015, by former Governor Steve Beshear, to provide high-speed internet access to remote and sparsely populated areas of Kentucky by 2018.
Extreme delays with the project have resulted in nearly $90 million in costs to the private companies involved, with the state only providing $8 million in penalties to them, and the entire project over its initial budget of $324 million by tens of millions of dollars.
Over the next two years, Kentucky is facing payments to the private partners to the tune of nearly $68 million.
The original concept of Kentucky Wired was to have private partners build a majority of the infrastructure and then lease access to private internet providers, which would create revenue for the state while paying back the private partners.
One of the partners, The Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA), has requested the $68 million coming due and authority to borrow $110 million to pay penalties for the delay; this has been recently approved by the General Assembly.
If the state opts out of the project at this time, there will be an estimated cost of nearly $500 million.
The requested investigation would be a conflict of interest Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, whose office would normally lead an investigation like this.
This is why Osborne has filed a resolution with the Kentucky Legislature’s Program Review and Investigation Committee.
Upon completion of an investigation, Osborne has requested the committee issue findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly.