Economy

Economy
2:23 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Poll Shows Majority of Kentuckians Support Expanded Gambling

Gov. Beshear has long advocated some form of expanded gambling in Kentucky.

A recently-released poll shows that a majority of Kentuckians support expanded gambling.

In the Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, 60 percent of those polled said they support expansion. For the first time, a majority Eastern Kentucky resident support gambling. 

The support is for a so-called clean gambling bill, which would not include any protections for horse racing tracks.

That's the approach Governor Steve Beshear is planning for his next gambling push. But opponents of gambling say any potential bill will fail because supporters can’t choose a single strategy. Also, only one track, Churchill Downs, has endorsed Beshear's plan.

Economy
1:37 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Report: Kentucky Tax System Unbalanced On Backs of the Poor

A new report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows a big gap between Kentucky’s income levels on who pays taxes.

The report says Kentucky’s top 1 percent income bracket pays roughly 5 percent of the state’s income, while the bottom 20 percent pays 9 percent.

Middle income levels are saddled with a higher percent, the report said.

Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, says the numbers show tax reform needs to happen quickly in Kentucky to better balance the burdens.

“This is one of the big issues that tax reform needs to address, the issue of the fairness of the tax system and the fact that there is inequity in who pays,” he said.

Lawmakers are likely to put off taking up recommendations by the state’s latest tax reform commission until a special session later this year.

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Economy
2:38 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Conway Alleges Mortgage Swapping Company Violated Kentucky Law

Claiming it committed fraud, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has filed a suit against a mortgage company.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, or MERS, provides a marketplace for banks to trade mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.

Conway says it was set up by banks to avoid the fees that must be paid when mortgages are sold and to hide the true owners of those mortgages.

Conway's suit alleges MERS did not pay the proper fees in Kentucky. He's also suing under the Consumer Protection Act, because MERS foreclosed on many homes.

“About 300,000 mortgages in Kentucky are MERS mortgages right now," Conway said. "We are able to fine up to $2,000 per violation of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act. We have that avenue of damages. And we also have the avenue to go after the recording fees that have been dodged as a result of this mortgage transfer scheme.”

New York, Delaware and Massachusetts have also filed suit against MERS.

Economy
2:21 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Beshear Gives Support to Local Option Sales Tax Idea

Proponents of a local option sales tax have gained big ally in their legislative fight: Gov. Steve Beshear.

The local option sales tax would allow cities to levy an additional tax on top of the state’s current six percent sales tax for specific projects, if local voters approved the new tax.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are the chief advocates pushing the idea, arguing their cities would use the extra revenue for infrastructure projects.

Speaking on Wednesday to the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, Beshear says he’s all for the idea.

“Well you know politicians are famous for being on both sides of an issue so let me say this… I’m for it,” Beshear says.

To go into effect, lawmakers would have to amend the state constitution and then statewide voters would have to approve the amendment.

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Economy
12:57 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Kentucky Agriculture Department Launches Effort to Connect Veterans with Jobs

Understanding that veterans have a higher unemployment rate than the population as a whole, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is launching two programs to help veterans find work.  The Homegrown by Heroes initiative will place a label on food items produced by Kentucky veterans. 

It's like the Kentucky Proud symbol, but includes a flag in the background and a veteran saluting.

"We've been getting calls from many other states and this is something I believe will be a nation model as a way to help market farm products by our military veterans," Comer remarked at a news conference Tuesday at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort..

Comer is launching another program called Kentucky Proud Jobs for Vets.  The initiative will maintain a database of farmers and agri-businesses looking for workers.  The database will be shared with military support groups like USA Cares.  Comer says many people like hiring veterans because of their strong work ethic and service to the country.

Economy
2:45 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Kentuckians Can Benefit from National Foreclosure Settlement

The state Attorney General's Office says Friday is the last day for Kentuckians to file a claim to receive a payment under the national mortgage settlement.  Thousands of borrowers who lost their homes between 2008 and 2011 may be eligible to receive a payment.

The nation's five largest mortgage servicers agreed to the settlement with the federal government and 49 state attorneys general last year. 

"Basically this settlement settles claims by the attorneys general that during the housing crisis and foreclosure crisis in the United States, these banks had allegedly engaged in fraudulent behavior which included robo signing documents that it filed with the court," said Allison Martin, a spokeswman for the Kentucky Attorney General's Office.

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Economy
8:05 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Stumbo, Stivers Agree that Kentucky Pension Funding Will Likely Wait, Again

Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg (left), confers with House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, on the opening day of the 2013 legislative session.
Credit Kentucky LRC

Kentucky legislative leaders say solutions on how to pay for Kentucky’s underfunded pensions won’t likely be addressed in the 2013 legislative session.

Both House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers say there will likely be a bill to introduce changes to the pension systems. But they also agree that such a bill is unlikely to deal how to fund the changes.

What they disagree on is when to deal with the funding solutions. Stumbo says pension funding should be dealt with in a special session, hand in hand with tax reform.

“There’ll be a bill, I don’t know whether it will be addressed," Stumbo says. "I think that we need, probably, to address the entire issue and that include the funding mechanism."

But Stivers says lawmakers should pass the changes now and deal with fully funding the pension system starting in 2014, when a new budget must be passed.

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Economy
7:15 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Elizabethtown Votes Down Liquor By the Drink Initiative

Voters in Elizabethtown have turned down liquor by the drink.

The News-Enterprise reports a liquor initiative failed Tuesday by 275 votes among fewer that 2,800 votes cast. Voters had overwhelmingly approved package liquor sales in October 2011.

Under commonwealth law, another referendum on liquor by the drink can't be held for three years in Elizabethtown.

Economy
8:23 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Kentucky Mayors to Speak about Crippling Pension Costs

The mayors of Kentucky's two largest cities and other community leaders will call for legislative action to address rising pension costs and how they are impacting communities.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray are planning to speak about the pension problems Monday morning at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort.

The morning news conference will also preview a national report from the Pew Center on the States that addresses the impact of pension costs on cities, including Louisville.

Other officials scheduled to attend the event are Kentucky League of Cities director Jonathan Steiner and Kentucky Association of Counties president Tommy Turner.

Economy
8:54 am
Fri January 4, 2013

Report: Beshear Considering a Push for Expanded Gambling Minus Links to Horse Racetracks

Turfway Park in Florence, Ky

The Courier-Journal is reporting that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear will consider proposing an expanded gambling package this year that does not include increased gaming at the state's horsetracks.

Beshear says that may be the only way he can get a gambling bill passed in the state legislature.

The Governor has tried unsuccessfully in the past to get a casino gambling bill through the Kentucky Senate. Expanded gambling supporters have hoped that last year's retirement of former Senate President David Williams, who opposed increased gaming, would better the bill's odds in 2013.

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