Economy

U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are urging Gov. Steve Beshear to seek a federal disaster declaration because of the potential economic consequences of a drought that has led to low water levels on the Mississippi River.

Beshear said Friday he appreciates their concern and that he's closely monitoring the situation.

McConnell and Paul said in a letter to Beshear on Thursday that commercial traffic on the river could "come to a complete halt in coming days" unless the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers takes action to increase the water flow.

After a nearly year-long review, Kentucky's Commission on Tax Reform has approved recommendations that could generate nearly $700 million a year.

Some $500 million of that would come from individual income taxes. Another $200 million would be generated by expanding the state's sales tax to household utilities and several services that have traditionally been exempt.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform is scheduled to meet Thursday to craft recommendations for Gov. Steve Beshear. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. EST in a conference room at the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority's headquarters at 100 Airport Road in Frankfort.

Beshear appointed the panel earlier this year to recommend a simpler tax code that would generate enough revenue to meet state needs even during recessions.

In Thursday's meeting, Beshear said the commission will review Kentucky's individual income tax to see if changes are needed there.

A nonprofit group said Monday the number of young adults who are not in school and unemployed in Kentucky and around the nation is skyrocketing. The children's advocacy group the Annie E. Casey Foundation said in the report that U.S. youth employment rates for both 16- to 19-year-olds and 20- to 24-year-olds are the lowest they've been in 50 years.

If the Army’s 101st Airborne Division Commander knows what impact the upcoming “fiscal cliff” will have on the unit, he’s not saying. Major General James McConville leads the 24,000 soldiers in the 101st based at Fort Campbell. McConville says  he doesn’t want to find out what the automatic defense cuts required by the 2011 Budget Control Act will mean for his soldiers.

State officials say Kentucky’s latest round of tax amnesty will be a success. Tax delinquents have until 9 pm Friday to file their request for amnesty with the state Department of Revenue. If delinquents pay the taxes they owe plus a penalty before the deadline, they can avoid additional punishment.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is no longer demanding that any legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to legalize gambling in Kentucky start in the Senate. "That line in the sand doesn't have to be drawn anymore," Stumbo told reporters during a Capitol press conference on Thursday. "I don't care if it's a House bill or a Senate bill."

The No. 1 priority for the Kentucky House in 2013 is set: Tackling recommendations from a recent report that found that special tax districts have big budgets and little oversight.  Auditor Adam Edelen recently finished a report on the districts, detailing billions of dollars in spending with little or no oversight.

A tax expert is warning state officials that Tennessee would be among the hardest-hit states if federal officials don't resolve the so-called fiscal cliff. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports Dr. Stan Chervin updated Gov. Bill Haslam and other state officials, saying states that depend heavily on sales taxes for revenue would feel the most stress if tax breaks are not extended.

What is expected to be the final meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform has been set for next week in Frankfort. Members will be finalizing their recommendations for reforming Kentucky's tax code in the meeting that's set for Dec. 6.

Pages