Kentucky's automotive industry had more than a million vehicles roll off their lines in 2012 for the first time since 2007.
Kentucky ranks fourth in the nation for total light vehicle production, third in the production of cars and fourth for light trucks. One out of every ten light vehicles produced in the United States in 2012 was made in Kentucky. Kentucky is home to nearly 450 motor vehicle related facilities employing almost 75,000 people. In the last two years, 135 auto industry location or expansion announcements were made representing 7,200 new jobs and nearly $1.8 billion in new capital investments.
Governor Steve Beshear attended the Detroit Auto Show earlier this month for the unveiling of the 2014 Corvette Stingray which is made in Bowling Green. General Motors is in the process of a $131 million plant transformation to the Bowling Green plant.
Unique Granite and Marble Inc. plans to expand their manufacturing operations in Owensboro, creating 25 new full-time jobs and investing $400,000 in the project.
Unique Granite and Marble has been manufacturing custom granite and quartz countertops in Owensboro since 2004 after transitioning from home building and remodeling. The company currently employs 28. With the expansion, the company plans to establish a new division to produce countertops for large commercial and multi-family units throughout a six state region.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $250,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Indiana legislators have introduced bills to help the state’s riverboat casinos hold onto business in the face of growing competition from casinos in neighboring states.
The bills would allow the casinos to move from the boats onto land, reduce their taxes and lift game restrictions on some. A major question, however, is whether any can win approval from lawmakers leery about being perceived as expanding gambling.
Indiana expects a 15 percent drop in the tax revenues from its 13 casinos, from the $614 million it collected last year to about $520 million for the 2015 budget year. State officials blame the decline in part on the opening of new casinos in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.
The Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting tax returns Jan. 30. The IRS had planned to open tax season on Jan. 22, but had to push back the date because of last-minute tax changes Congress made to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
Kentucky IRS spokesman Luis Garcia says the agency has had to re-program its computers and forms to reflect the late changes.
"A lot of work, but we want to make sure the filing season runs as smooth as possible," Garcia replies. The majority, 81% of people in Kentucky get a refund and we want to make sure that money gets sent as quickly as possible."
Despite the late start to tax season, the filing deadline remains April 15th. This isn't the first time the IRS has had to deal with late action by Congress. Two years ago, President Obama and lawmakers were at odds on many of the same issues. That delayed the opening of tax season to mid-February.
The mayors of Lexington and Louisville believe Kentucky needs a local option sales tax to stay competitive. The tax is levied temporarily to finance public infrastructure projects, but an opinion issued this week by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office says voters would first need to approve a constitutional amendment.
According to the opinion, local governments nor the General Assembly may enact a local option sales tax without changing the state constitution. The Courier-Journal reports the opinion was requested by the Louisville Metro Council. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray want counties to be able to locally increase the statewide sales tax and use the additional revenue for public projects. Voters would have to approve the tax and the projects it would fund in a local referendum.
In an opinion issued Monday by Attorney General Jack Conway, the first step would be amending the state constitution.