Governor Beshear’s Communications Director Kerri Richardson says Beshear needs more information regarding future federal reimbursement and the level at which the facilities could be reopened before deciding on reopening federal parks like Mammoth Cave and Land Between the Lakes.
There’s no word yet from Governor Steve Beshear regarding whether he will use state funds to reopen national parks that have been closed due to the government shutdown.
The Obama administration says it will allow states to use their own money to reopen some national parks.
The Governors of Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, and Utah have asked for authority to reopen national parks within their borders because of the economic impacts caused by the park closures. The closing of parks in Kentucky, such as Mammoth Cave National Park, has sent workers home and is a drag on local economies that benefit from tourists who visit the park and other nearby attractions.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a letter Thursday to the four governors that the government will consider offers to pay for park operations, but will not surrender control of national parks to the states.
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show Kentucky with one of the highest poverty rates in the U.S. The figures are part of the bureau’s latest American Community Survey which was released Thursday.
Kentucky had the fifth-highest percentage of residents living in poverty in 2012, behind only Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas. A little more than 823,000 Kentuckians, or 19.4 percent of the state’s population, suffer through poverty. That represents a 0.3 percent increase in the commonwealth’s poverty rate since 2011.
By comparison, Tennessee’s poverty rate stood at 17.9 percent in 2012, an improvement of 0.4 percent over 2011. The poverty rate in Indiana was 15.6 percent, which was also an improvement of 0.4 percent.
There was at least one bit of good news for the Bluegrass State in the latest survey. Kentucky is one of just three states to see a statistically significant increase in the rate of private health insurance coverage from 2010 to 2012.
You can see a report containing the latest American Community Survey data on poverty in the U.S here.
The state unemployment rate declined slightly in August despite significant job losses in some key labor market sectors.
The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training reported Thursday that the rate fell to 8.4 percent, down from 8.5 percent in July.
State economist Manoj Shanker said the trade, transportation and utilities sector shed 2,100 jobs in August. The financial services sector lost 700 jobs. The government sector fell by 500 positions. The information sector, which includes newspapers, lost another 500 workers. And the mining and logging sector declined by another 100.
Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson says that while it feels like "slogging through mud", the area economy is slowly starting to turn around.
However, Wilkerson told WKU Public Radio the city is still subject to manufacturing job losses that can have a big impact on its labor force.
"In a community our size, when something like Eagle Industries shuts down and puts 275 people out of work, we feel that hit. Fruit of the Loom has decided to reduce its workforce by close to 100 this year, and those are 100 good-paying jobs that are very meaningful to our economy. So when they're gone, we notice it," Wilkerson said.
Recent data compiled by the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet show the Bowling Green Metropolitan Statistical Area with a seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 7.5 percent for the month of July, which is two-tenths of a percentage point below the national jobless figure.
Top state budget staffers are predicting meager revenue growth over the next two years in the General Fund and a slight decline in the Road Fund, largely because of Kentucky's slow rebound from economic recession.
Government financial analyst Greg Harkenrider told a group of Kentucky's top economists on Thursday that collections from the individual income tax, the state's top revenue producer, is projected to rise between 1.6 percent and 4 percent in the next two fiscal years. That would help to offset projected declines in the coal severance tax and the cigarette tax.
Those latest projections were presented Thursday to economists serving on the Consensus Forecasting Group, a panel charged with predicting long-term state government revenues.
The budget outlooks in both Kentucky and Tennessee are healthier than they were this time last year. Kentucky Budget Director Jane Driskell announced Friday that the state’s general fund receipts for the first month of the fiscal year were up two-percent over July of last year.
Tennessee, meanwhile, has ended its budget year with a $42 million budget surplus, fueled partly by a nine-percent increase in the Volunteer State’s corporate tax receipts. Governor Bill Haslam’s office hasn’t said yet what he plans to do with the extra money.
Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator says he’s developing a “Republican alternative” to a Detroit bailout plan.
Speaking on the Glenn Beck radio show, Senator Paul said he is talking with his staff about ways to help economically depressed areas of the country, like Detroit. The Bowling Green Republican said he would like to look at ways to “have some tax forbearance, reduce some taxes, encourage businesses, encourage people to come in and take abandoned property.”
Politico reports Paul is opposed to the idea of borrowing money to bail out the city, but he is suggesting the government should redirect foreign aid sent to countries like Egypt, and instead use it on infrastructure projects in the U.S.
A national poll conducted by Quinnipiac University shows that a majority Democrats believe the federal government should bail out Detroit, but an even larger majority of Americans oppose such a move.
The year-to-year unemployment rate has increased in 88 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet released figures Thursday comparing each county’s jobless rate from June of 2012 to June of this year.
Overall, the state’s jobless rate rose to 8.9% from 8.6%
Warren County’s jobless rate this June was up .8 of a percent to 8%.
In Daviess County, the unemployment figure increased half-a-percentage point to 7.9%.
Hardin County saw a jobless rate of 8.3% this June, up slightly from last year.
Pulaski County’s unemployment rate stood at 10.1% in June, up 0.7% from last year.
The current jobless figures in those four counties all exceed the national unemployment rate of 7.8%