Kentucky Senate passes incentive bill aimed at mega projects

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WTVQ) — The state Senate voted Thursday to strengthen Kentucky’s negotiating hand in trying to land huge economic development projects by tapping into budget reserves to offer lucrative incentives.

The $410 million economic development package, requested by Gov. Andy Beshear, won 30-3 Senate passage, sending the measure to the House on the third day of a special session.

Projects topping $2 billion would be eligible for the incentives. Beshear has said the state is pursuing at least five projects of that magnitude. The Democratic governor picked up solid support from Republican lawmakers to sweeten the state’s offer in trying to land mega-sized projects.

“These are the kinds of big ideas and projects and prospects that we should be supporting in a bipartisan manner,” Republican Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said.

Incentives include up to $350 million in forgivable state loans and $50 million for worker training. The money would come from the state’s budget reserve trust fund, which now has nearly $2 billion.

Rocky Adkins, the governor’s senior adviser, says multiple Kentucky sites are drawing interest.

But much of the attention has revolved around a Hardin County tract. The Glendale site was offered two decades ago when Kentucky unsuccessfully tried to land a Hyundai auto manufacturing plant.

The measure goes to the House and could be approved today.

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