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Finance Secretary Discusses Horse Park Management

Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary William Landrum appeared before the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee today to detail his plan to implement Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts in his agency. Landrum is a retired Army colonel and a decorated military hero.

His testimony drew praise from several Republican committee members who said other cabinet heads should use Landrum’s template for their budget presentations. Some cabinet secretaries have offered little to virtually no information to lawmakers about how they will enact the governor’s plan to cut 4.5 percent from the budget for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and 9 percent over the next two fiscal years.

But on the Senate floor Monday, Landrum’s name was dropped in a less harmonious debate over the management of the Kentucky Horse Park. Landrum recently sent a letter to Jamie Link, the park’s executive director, telling him to reduce the facility’s purchasing in light of alleged financial improprieties. An audit covering 2010 – 2014 showed a pattern of money mismanagement, hemorrhaging budgets, and a deficit of more than $3 million.

Link became director of the park after the audit. He contends the equine attraction is on the rebound thanks to fast-growing revenues.

Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) has proposed a major restructuring of the Kentucky Horse Park management. His Senate Bill 200 would reduce the park’s governing board from 17 to 9 commissioners, with six of those members being appointed by the governor.

The heated debate that unfolded on the Senate floor yesterday waded into more territory than board composition. Lawmakers discussed allegations of unfair pricing policies and limited campground access – issues that Thayer said are generating an increasing number of complaints.

During Landrum’s Senate budget committee testimony this morning, the secretary explained what prompted the letter to the horse park’s director, and he detailed steps to ensure the facility regains sound fiscal stewardship.

See yesterday’s Senate floor debate on SB 200. The chamber approved the measure on a 26 – 10 vote.

Follow @ReneeKET on Twitter for updates throughout the day, and for a recap of the full day’s activities, watch Legislative Update, weeknights at 11 on KET. You can also follow the Kentucky General Assembly on KET’s Legislative Coverage app for your smartphone or tablet.