There is a quote in Dr. Seuss's famous book Oh the Places You'll Go that makes me think of the current legislative session. We're currently in "the waiting place" where people just wait. We may not be waiting for our "Uncle Jake" or a "Better Break" but we are waiting to see what happens with budget negotiations.
We're all waiting to see what is included in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's operating budget - and waiting to see how every mode of transportation - and every program administered by the Cabinet gets funded for the next two fiscal years.
And - as of the distribution of this newsletter - we're still waiting.
But - like the Dr. Seuss story - we still found "bright places" this week - in spite of the impasse.
Wednesday, the KBT Air Committee met in Richmond with the new Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Aviation, Colonel Steve Parker. Colonel Parker, an avid aviation supporter, provided several important updates, including an update on the Administration's dedication to ensuring our General Aviation Airports are able to match their Federal Airport Improvement Funds. The Administration has committed to continuing the 7.5% state match program for GA Airports for the 2017 Fiscal Year, reducing the match requirement of the local airport boards to 2.5%.
This is a tremendous and greatly appreciated commitment to General Aviation. We appreciate Colonel Parker and the administration for their dedication to General Aviation in Kentucky.
Shortly after the Air Transportation Committee meeting, several members visited the Central Kentucky Regional Airport, formerly known as the Madison Airport, for a tour and discussion on the airport's planned improvements. The tour was led by KBT member George Wyatt and students of EKU's aviation program. Our morning was impressive - it was wonderful to be surrounded by so many people so dedicated to aviation.
Wednesday evening, Katie and I attended an equally impressive event - a retirement reception for KBT Board member Ron Gray. Ron is retiring after serving as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Crushed Stone Association (KCSA) for 11 years.
KBT will miss Ron's involvement on our board. We could always count on Ron's love of a good joke, a good cigar, and a good glass of wine. We could also count on his love of the industry he represented - and all the people who worked in it. It was clear that all the KCSA members love Ron too. We look forward to catching up with Ron during his retirement and hope to see him at some of our future events.
Although we'll miss Ron, we are excited to work with KCSA's new Executive Director Nick Rodgers. Rodgers brings a tremendous amount of experience to the position, including working for Plantmix Asphalt Association of Kentucky (PAIKY) for several years.
While we may be waiting for our state operating budget, it won't prevent us from focusing on the positive programs contained in the first long term surface transportation bill - The FAST Act - to pass in more than a decade.
And just like the book, we'll encourage the members of the Kentucky General Assembly to remember that the budgeting process, like life is "a great balancing act."
We'll also hope that Dr. Seuss is right - and that they're 98 and ¾ percent guaranteed to succeed in negotiating budget agreements that move mountains.