Sunday, April 21, 2002

Maybe Senate will do right

        Monday could be a big day for Northern Kentucky's Senate Republicans in Frankfort. It is a time for redemption, an opportunity to display leadership, a chance for the trio to be for something instead of against everything.

        Lawmakers must head back to the state capitol Monday for a special session to pass the budget. Gov. Paul Patton has called them back to Frankfort because they failed to pass a budget during the three-month regular session that ended April 15.

        Included in the budget will be two major items:

        • Millions of dollars for the first phase of a $43 million arena at Northern Kentucky University.

        • The continuation of a sales-tax break for Newport on the Levee. The developers have used the break to complete $185 million worth of work on the $215 million entertainment complex. Keeping the break in the budget means the project's developers can move forward on a 200-room hotel, more retail space and more parking.

        These are done deals in the House, where they have been overseen by House Majority Caucus Chairman Jim Callahan, D-Wilder, and other House Democratic leaders.

        But what is going to happen in the Senate? Will Republican Senators Katie Stine of Fort Thomas, Dick Roeding of Lakeside Park and Jack Westwood of Erlanger step up for the region and support these items? Or will they do what they've often done in the past when a Democratic administration wanted to push legislation and money for Northern Kentucky, namely get in the way, hold their breath until somebody gives them credit and generally make trouble for the very people they are sent to Frankfort to represent?

        Remember the debates over the $38 million Northern Kentucky Convention Center, the $4 million regional juvenile detention center in Newport and the $40 million natural sciences building now going up at Northern Kentucky University? Northern Kentucky Senate Republicans made approval for those projects harder than it ever should have been. Will they do it Monday, when millions are thrown toward NKU's arena — even when the project will benefit our region's university and the entire community?

        And how about the tax break? It requires no upfront money from the state. It's a rebate on sales tax generated by cash spent at the project. And it will allow the growth of the most exciting river project since RiverCenter.

        Let's see what your senators do. Maybe it'll be the right thing — for a change.
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