Economy

Kentucky and Ohio to Study Bridge Funding Options

Dec 12, 2012

The governors of Kentucky and Ohio have announced an agreement to work together to find the money to replace the outdated Brent Spence Bridge.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear agreed Wednesday to create a bi-state management team that will investigate funding options to replace the nearly 50-year-old span. The heavily used bridge carries traffic between the two states over the Ohio River and is considered obsolete.

Preliminary estimates for replacing the bridge run more than $2 billion.

The discussions relating to the so-called "Fiscal Cliff" in Washington have included a number of proposals about ways to raise tax revenue. One suggestion that is drawing concern among some charities would reduce the tax deduction for wealthy Americans to donate money to charitable organizations.


Kentucky's Blue Ribbon Tax Commission has wrapped up its work, but Governor Steve Beshear says the biggest challenge to revising the tax code still remains.

Tax reform is on the tip of the tongue every few years in Frankfort. But historically, not much has been accomplished. Beshear will get the commission's latest recommendations for tax reform this week. And it'll be up to him to convince lawmakers that the panel's work is worth turning into law.

The University of Kentucky's Departments of Forestry and Agricultural Economics recently announced the findings from an economic impact study on the wood and forest industries in the Commonwealth. The study found that Kentucky's forest industries contribute nearly $10 billion to the state's economy each year.

Dr. Jeffrey W. Stringer of the University of Kentucky says about three-fourths of the state's forests remain in private hands, and they continue to grow at a faster rate than they are being removed. The study found that the state's forest industries provide about 2.7 % of the jobs in Kentucky, with more than 24,000 people being employed by the logging and wood/paper industries.

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.

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