Diagnostic Center Funds Removed from Kentucky Budget

A $13.5-million appropriation for an expansion of the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center in Lexington is among the budget line items vetoed by Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Fletcher on April 24 cut $370 million in projects from the state's 2006-07 budget that earlier was approved by the House of Representatives and Senate. The governor said he made the cuts to manage debt.

The LDDC appropriation would have been for a second phase of a project designed to expand and upgrade infrastructure at the facility, which was under the gun during the mare reproductive loss syndrome outbreak in the spring of 2001 in Central Kentucky because of the sheer volume of affected equines. The facility also handles cattle.

The LDDC project was one of several horse industry-related projects included in the budget and announced by Republican Sen. Damon Thayer the week of April 10.

"I'm very disappointed in the governor's decision to veto phase two construction at the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center," Thayer said April 25. "Given the size of our cattle industry, the situation with MRLS, and the fact this is the horse capital of the world, I feel like this is a priority that should be funded.

"The (LDDC funding plan) has wide, bipartisan support, and we'll continue to push for funding in future legislative sessions."

The LDDC received more than $8 million last year for the first phase of its expansion.

Thayer said he believes money for the University of Louisville equine program and the start-up North American Riding Academy at the Kentucky Horse Park remain in the budget. A plan to scrap an assessment charged to racetracks to support the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority is intact, at least for the next fiscal year, he said.