New courthouses serve as political flashpoints as Ky. legislature considers debt limit
With shiny new courthouses opening up across Kentucky, one congressional candidate said last week that counties need to stop building them immediately and turn them into schools.
Thomas Massie, a Republican running in the 4th Congressional District, dedicated his five-minute remarks at a rally about imposing a state debt limit last Wednesday to criticizing the debt incurred by the new county courthouse buying spree.
The judicial branch, since 1998, has moved forward with construction of 70 courthouses across Kentucky. As the Herald-Leader’s Linda Blackford reported in January 2010, Kentucky racked up a bill of $880 million for those new courthouses.
Massie called that spending unnecessary and dangerous, given the amount of debt for which the counties are on the hook. He spoke in favor of Senate Bill 1, which would cap the total amount of debt Kentucky could take on at 6 percent of the state’s revenue level — that’s a benchmark the legislature has historically used but did surpass in the last two-year budget.
Other congressional candidates also spoke at the rally, including Republican candidate for the 6th Congressional District Andy Barr. Barr said he was concerned about debt. But he spent Tuesday embarking on a tour of 6th District counties with high unemployment rates starting at the celebration of the opening of the Fleming County Courthouse.
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