The leader of Kentucky's Justice and Public Safety Cabinet says a declining recidivism rate is a major reason why the commonwealth no longer needs to house inmates in privately-run prisons.
The last remaining contract between the state and a company running a private prison expired over the weekend. That facility was run by Marion Adjustment Center in Marion County.
J. Michael Brown says the state is doing a much better job of preparing those exiting prison for life on the other side. The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary says probation and parole officers in Kentucky now use an assessment tool that better takes into account an individual's history and needs to help determine how much monitoring that former inmate will need once he or she is out of prison.
"Some individuals need very little supervision, some individuals need very targeted supervision. And doing it in a manner that is not a cookie-cutter approach, we find that we can better prepare individuals for re-entry," Brown told WKU Public Radio.
According to data kept by the Cabinet, the number of offenders who left state Department of Corrections custody in 2008 and returned by the end of 2011 declined by nearly four-percent over the previous three-year period.
Kentucky lawmakers could soon take up the issue of taxing electric and compressed natural gas vehicles, in an effort to bolster a flagging road and bridge maintenance fund.
Kentucky House Transportation Committee Chairman Hubert Collins says alternatives are already being discussed in other states and at the federal level. Collins says with gas tax revenue in decline, Kentucky has to do something to make sure there’s adequate funding for transportation infrastructure.
“I think we see that U.P.S. bought something like 1,700 new vehicles which will be the compressed natural gas variety, and that will again take a toll (on Kentucky’s gas tax receipts)," said Rep. Collins.
Despite the concerns from lawmakers, Kentucky’s gasoline tax will rise 2.4 cents next month to a little over 32 cents a gallon—something that could generate $900 million in new revenue over the next fiscal year. The hike comes as a result of a tax increase state lawmakers wrote into law more than 30 years ago.
A new report says the economic impact of tourism in Kentucky grew again last year.
The study reports a $12 billion impact for tourism last year. That's up about four and a half percent from the previous year. In addition, the report credits tourism for 174,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in wages.
In a statement, tourism officials give partial credit to growth of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
The series of distilleries has drawn steady interest since it's inception in 1999, but broke an attendance record last year, drawing over half a million visitors.
April 18th is National Tax Freedom Day, the point at which Americans will have earned enough money to pay this year's tax obligations at the local, state, and federal levels. Elizabeth Malm is an economist with the Washington-based Tax Foundation. She says Americans this year will work five days later than in 2012 to pay all their taxes.
But the nation's jobless rate still edged down to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. That dip wasn't for a good reason, though: Nearly half a million fewer people were participating in the labor force. That smaller pool meant the jobless rate could tick down even as job growth was weak.
One in five Kentuckians and Tennesseans currently receives food stamps through a federal assistance program. Nationally, the number of food stamp recipients has increased 70% since 2008.
Twenty-percent of Kentucky residents receive help through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—or SNAP--which provides food stamp benefits for the needy. In Tennessee, 21% of residents are on the program, along with 14% of Indiana residents.
Analysts agree that the biggest reason for the increasing numbers on assistance is the poor job market and national increase in poverty.
But a report in The Wall Street Journal also points out that states are able to ease income tests for would-be participants, allowing those with relatively higher incomes and savings to take part in the program. As of December of 2012, a record 47.8 million Americans received benefits through SNAP.
The Kentucky Lottery Corporation is moving ahead with a new Keno game and online lottery sales, in hopes the games will be profitable.
The lottery board hopes to generate $85 million dollars a year with the new games by 2023.
State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach spearheaded the effort to expand to Keno and online sales as a way to help generate more revenue for the state. He says the implementation will take time, but money should start coming in shortly afterward.
"So you're probably not going to see anything of any significance until 2014. It takes a little while."
State House Democrats have said additional lottery revenues could pay for the state's underfunded pension system. Finding a way to fund pension reforms has been a major cause of disagreement in Frankfort this year.