Kentucky horse racing authorities have approved a plan for Ellis Park to increase the purses for many of its thoroughbred races starting in August, helping make it more competitive with other tracks.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted Wednesday to authorize the Henderson racetrack to use $300,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
Ellis Park initially hoped to use half of that money to help fund a pair of new stakes races for two year olds this summer. The track's Director of Operations, Bob Jackson, said that wouldn't be possible this year.
The Commission authorized the track to use $200,000 to bolster purse money for Kentucky-bred horses competing in maiden and allowance races this summer. The Commission also agreed to allow Ellis Park to hold the remaining $100,000 until next year.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has signed an order to cover a $91 deficit in the state's $9.5 billion state budget.
State officials announced the shortfall last week following sluggish collections on state income taxes. Beshear's order cuts $3 million in state spending. He made up the rest by transferring money from other sources, including $21.2 million from the state's reserves. State officials said they had few options to make up the deficit because the shortfall came at the end of the fiscal year when most of the money had already been spent.
Beshear's order also dealt with a $22.1 million shortfall in the state's road fund, with just $300,000 in cuts to construction projects.
This was the 14th budget reduction Beshear has implemented since taking office in 2007.
The 134th Fancy Farm Picnic is now just a little more than two weeks away and the line-up of speakers is almost complete.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, are expected to face off for the second time in as many years on August 2. Fancy Farm political chair Mark Wilson says, unlike Grimes, McConnell has yet to confirm his appearance, but expects the five-term Senator will make the trip.
Wilson said the picnic’s attendance could swell to as many as 20,000 people.
“Normally we’ll do 10-12,000 or so," Wilson said. "But with all the heightened interest in the McConnell/Grimes race and then you’ve got U.S. Sen. Rand Paul with some presidential aspirations and then we’ve got Jack Conway and James Comer, both sitting state officials who have gubernatorial aspirations.”
Comer has yet to actually declare himself a candidate for governor. The lone Republican to officially enter the race, Hal Heiner, will not be invited to speak, according to Wilson, because he’s not a sitting public official. McConnell's primary challenger, Matt Bevin, ran into the same problem at last year's event, but was eventually invited to speak.
WKU is beginning to prepare its employees for likely changes to the school’s health plan. At a forum Wednesday afternoon, representatives from the school’s Human Resources Department told workers that WKU’s self-funded model is coming under significant strain.
The school says it saw a 13.3 percent increase in medical expenses in 2013 compared to the previous year, with expenses exceeding revenue by more than $2 million.
WKU is predicting that unless changes are made, the school’s health plan expenses could increase by 8 to 10 percent in 2015.
No definitive announcement was made, however, about whether employee premiums or deductibles will be increasing. Speaking to WKU Public Radio after the forum, Assistant Director of Human Resources Kari Aikins described the school’s timeline for announcing any changes.
“We’re going to continue to evaluate and model these options financially over the next month, month-and-a-half, and then start making some formalized recommendations to our leadership and President--through our benefits committee--and hopefully have something set in stone by the end of August,” Aikens said.
The Board of Trustees for Campbellsville University says it is moving forward with a plan to phase out of its existing relationship with the Kentucky Baptist Convention over the next four years.
The change will likely mean the loss of nearly $1 million dollars in funding per year. The Board of Trustees and the university wanted more control in the trustee selection process. Earlier this week, it was reported that part of the new plan was to have the ability to appoint a non-Baptist trustee.
But in a letter co-signed by board chairman Joseph Owens, the board said trustees would remain 100 percent Baptist. The letter also stressed Campbellsville University will remain a “strongly Christian, evangelical, Baptist-connected institution”.
“We are terribly saddened to learn that Campbellsville has adopted bylaws inconsistent with their Covenant Agreement with the churches of the Kentucky Baptist Convention,” said Chip Hutcheson, president of the KBC in a written statement. “The statement released by Campbellsville brings to mind the husband who wants to divorce his wife but still offers to live with her. The university has taken steps to remove itself from a covenant relationship yet still wants to claim it is ‘committed’ to the family."
A meeting of Kentucky Baptist Convention officers was previously scheduled for Thursday to discuss the latest developments.
Ed Marksberry, the Owensboro contractor who had hoped to appear as an independent candidate on this November’s ballot for the Kentucky Senate race, says he will stop trying to collect signatures to that end.
In a written statement, Marksberry says he collected only half of the 5,000 signatures needed to appear on the ballot. He says recent health issues have impeded his efforts to meet an August 12th deadline.
Marksberry says the race between incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes lacks a progressive voice. When asked whether he’ll support Grimes, Marksberry told the Herald-Leader, “absolutely not”.
A federal judge has ruled that a former Barren County sheriff's deputy violated the constitutional rights of a man under arrest. U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley found that Adam Minor used excessive force on Billy Stinnett after a 2010 chase.
The decision is the latest in the long-running case involving former Barren County sheriff Chris Eaton and other officials.
Stinnett claimed in a civil suit filed in federal court in 2011 that Eaton, Minor and other officers struck him or failed to intervene when others struck him after he was arrested.
A Super PAC supporting Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is greatly out-performing a similar group that is raising money for Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
According to a report in the Courier-Journal, the vast majority of the contributions made to the pro-McConnell group Kentuckians for Strong Leadership come from out-of-state individuals.
That Super PAC this week reported raising nearly $424,000 during the months of May and June. None of that money came from Kentuckians. The single biggest donation came from Sam Fox of St. Louis, the CEO and chairman of a private company that acquires businesses.
Reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has raised more than $3.7 million dollars since it was formed last year, with less than 5 percent of that coming from donors with Kentucky addresses.
A Super PAC supporting Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes called We Are Kentucky raised $50,000 during the second quarter, while spending nearly $65,000 in that same time period. Since forming last year, the group has raised $343,000, a fraction of what Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has taken in to support Senator McConnell.