Beshear Squeezes Parks For World Equestrian Games Funding

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Building a stadium and arena at Kentucky Horse Park remains a top priority despite a budget shortfall that has led to widespread cuts in government spending, Gov. Steve Beshear said Friday.

Beshear told reporters at a Capitol news conference that he has taken $28.6 million from various state parks and given it to the horse park in preparation for the World Equestrian Games that will be held in Lexington in 2010.

Two years ago, the state committed to host the games, often referred to as the "Olympics for horses," and has been working since then to prepare for the arrival of some 500,000 spectators and participants from around the world.

"It is an important commitment," Beshear said of the state's decision to host the equestrian games. "It's one I believe in, and one I believe needs to be fulfilled."

It comes at a time when the state is hurting financially. Beshear, who owns a horse farm in the Lexington area, has ordered state agencies and universities to cut spending by 3 percent and has warned that more cuts may be necessary because of a $434 million budget shortfall this year.

To obtain funding to pay for a $24.6 million stadium and a $4 million expansion to an arena already under construction, Beshear pulled money that was intended to pay for improvements at at least 10 state parks. More than $15 million of that money would have been used for improvements at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in southern Kentucky. Another $5 million would have been used to build a conference center at Lake Cumberland.

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