Beshear: Ky Kingdom decision 'within weeks,' touts 2012 accomplishments


by Joe Arnold

Posted on December 21, 2012 at 8:39 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky (WHAS11) -- Governor Steve Beshear said Thursday he expects the state to decide within weeks whether to reach a deal with a Louisville investment group to reopen Kentucky Kingdom.

"I'm hopeful it will have an exciting future as an amusement park," Beshear said, cautioning that the park failed under national ownership under the Six Flags banner.

Confirming that the state is negotiating with just one bidder, by default that's Ed Hart's Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Corporation (KKRC), Beshear said a critical element is for the private investors to secure necessary financing.

"I think we've reached a point that as long as they can meet the rest of the parameters of the RFP, which is to get their financing, and we're not involved in their financing, they we can make a deal," Beshear said to reporters at the state capitol.

Yet, it is unclear whether Beshear's comments suggest a deal is close or if he is beginning to explain why a deal can't be reached.

Both KKRC and the state agencies involved in the negotiations have repeatedly declined comment after the state explained that public comments are not allowed during the Request for Proposal process.

Kentucky Kingdom is not on Beshear's top ten list of his accomplishments in 2012. 

Number one on that list is job creation.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Kentucky's job growth rate second in the nation over the past year.

"Particularly with the recession, that's a major accomplishment," Beshear said.

Number two on Beshear's list -- sharing credit with lawmakers to curb prescription drug abuse.

Beshear also touts Kentucky's response to devastating tornadoes, an historic partnership to build two new bridges in Louisville, budget cuts and a boost in Education Week's national rankings.

"We jumped from 34th to 14th in one year," Beshear said.

Yet the Connecticut school shooting is prompting questions about Kentucky's funding cuts to its school safety program.

Beshear said the state should reexamine the funding and keep an open mind as the country debates whether to stiffen gun control measures.

As 2012 comes to a close Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is also looking forward.

WHAS11 Political Editor Joe Arnold has more on what the governor has planned for 2013 including a continued push for expanded gambling in the commonwealth.