Four Kentucky Democratic House leaders met Wednesday in Washington with U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, to discuss road projects in the state. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, attended the meeting with Rogers.
The discussions involved Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s efforts to extend the Mountain Parkway in Eastern Kentucky from Prestonsburg to Beckley, W.Va., and widening the Hal Rogers Parkway in south-central Kentucky, bringing it up to interstate standards and extending it southeast to Tennessee.
The combined projects would become part of the Interstate 66 project that Eastern Kentucky leaders and Rogers have long championed.
“These meetings went exactly as we had hoped and show that the support is growing in our nation’s capitol,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, in a release.
“They realize, as we do, that projects like these can open up the region in a way no other can. Eastern Kentucky needs a major interstate route to the east and south, and these plans are the best way to do that.”
Kentucky House members with Stumbo were House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook, House Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards of Bowling Green and House Majority Whip Johnny Bell of Glasgow.
They arranged the meetings while in Washington for the National Conference of State Legislature’s Symposium for Legislative Leaders.
Stumbo has asked the state Transportation Cabinet to look at how the project from Prestonsburg to Beckley, W.Va., could be accomplished.
He supports using up to $1 billion of federal abandoned mine land funds.
“Rather than sitting idle, these funds can be used to improve the coal region’s infrastructure and economic future,” he said.
The Kentucky House leaders support expanding the project’s scope to include the Hal Rogers Parkway and tying it together under the I-66 umbrella.
“I want to thank Rep. Rogers, Sen. Paul and House Speaker Boehner for meeting with us and offering their suggestions,” Stumbo said. “These billion-dollar projects can’t be built overnight, but the sooner we can lay the groundwork and planning, the sooner we can begin turning this dream into reality.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – The state Road Fund, which pays for highway projects, may come up $11 million less than expected for the year.
State budget director Jane Driskell reported Wednesday in a release that Road Fund receipts fell 4.1 percent last month compared to May 2014 with collections of $126 million. Year-to-date collections have fallen 1.5 percent.
The official Road Fund revenue estimate calls for a decrease in revenues of 0.9 percent for fiscal year 2015, which ends June 30.
Based on year-to-date tax collections, revenues must grow 5.6 percent in June to meet the estimate.
The most recent internal revenue estimate predicted a Road Fund revenue shortfall of $11 million for the fiscal year, Driskell said.
State Transportation Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe said, “Anytime there is a budget shortfall,something has to give.”
But Wolfe said it would not be possible to say at this time what might be affected in the cabinet with a budget shortfall.
“It could mean a delay in some kind of activity or project,” he said, adding that the cabinet’s expected budget for this fiscal year is about $1.5 billion.
FRANKFORT –Kentucky’s General Fund, which pays for most state programs, had its best month ever in collections in April and is expected to finish this fiscal year on June 30 with a $46.1 million surplus.
But the state’s Road Fund, which pays for highway and other transportation projects, dropped 12.8 percent in April collections and is on course to end this fiscal year $11.1 million short of what was expected.
The Jekyll-and-Hyde financial news for the state came Tuesday when state budget director Jane C. Driskell reported that Kentucky took in more than $1 billion in General Fund receipts in April, the most ever for any month in the state’s history.
Total General Fund revenues for the month were nearly $1.03 billion, compared to $830.2 million in April 2014.
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law Monday a bill that will provide the University of Kentucky with $132.5 million in state bonds for a six-story medical research center.
“This projects represents the potential to improve the lives of so many, both within Kentucky where our health outcomes are so poor, and beyond,” Beshear said at a Capitol news conference with several legislators and Lisa Cassis, UK’s vice president of research.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto was not able to attend because of a stomach virus.
House Bill 298, sponsored by Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, authorizes spending $5.6 million on debt payments for the bonds this year and $11 million in subsequent years.
UK will provide another $132.5 million for the project through research contracts and private donations.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the project is personal to him since he has had many relatives and friends treated at UK for cancer.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the ramifications of the center are “wide-ranging.”
Stumbo also apologized to Capilouto, saying he initially thought Capilouto was “not up for the job” to be UK president but that Capilouto has proved him wrong.
The center, which would house researchers from several disciplines, is to be built on UK’s campus near South Limestone and Virginia Avenue.
UK plans to begin construction by the end of the year.
The health challenges those researchers will address include cancer, heart and pulmonary disease, stroke and other preventable illnesses.
By Jack Brammer firstname.lastname@example.org FRANKFORT – The General Fund, which pays for most state programs, took in 12.8 percent more money in November than it did in November 2013, state budget director Jane Driskell said Wednesday. Driskell, in a news release, said sales and individual income taxes accounted for much of the gain. “We are […]
FRANKFORT — Kentucky motorists will pay less taxes for gas starting New Year’s Day, but the change will mean fewer road improvements, state officials warned Wednesday.
Kentucky’s tax on sales of gasoline, diesel and ethanol motor fuels will drop by 4.3 cents per gallon on Jan. 1, resulting in a loss to the Kentucky Road Fund of about $129 million on an annualized basis, according to the state Transportation Cabinet.
Kentucky’s gas tax fluctuates with the average wholesale price of gas, which has dropped in recent months.
“The gas tax accounts for more than half of the revenue in the Kentucky Road Fund,” state Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in a news release. “A loss of revenue is always concerning, but a revenue impact of this magnitude is crippling. It means less money for building, improving, maintaining and repairing our roads, streets and bridges.”
A loss of $129 million would amount to about 6 percent of Kentucky’s highway funding, which was forecast to collect $2.25 billion in the current fiscal year from all revenue sources, including state and federal motor-fuels taxes and a state usage tax on motor vehicles.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — After four months of anemic growth, Kentucky’s General Fund revenue increased 4.6 percent in October compared to a year ago, State Budget Director Jane Driskell announced Monday.
Total revenue for the month was $755.7 million, compared to $722.5 million during October 2013.
Receipts have increased 1.9 percent for the first four months of the fiscal year, and need to grow 4.4 percent over the final eight months of this month to achieve the official revenue estimate of $9.8 million.
There is cause for concern but “no reason at this point to panic,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “We will just be carefully monitoring the situation.”
The General Fund, which pays for most state programs, had a solid month after a first quarter in which receipts grew only 1.1 percent, Driskell said.
“October was clearly a strong month of revenue growth as nominal collections grew $33.2 million, an amount higher than the nominal growth in the entire first quarter of fiscal year 2015,” she said.
The main contributions to the healthy growth in October were the individual income tax and sales taxes, which grew 4.8 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, while corporate and property receipts continued to underperform.
Road Fund receipts for October totaled $126.7 million, a 0.3 percent decrease. They can decline 2 percent over the next eight months and still meet the official yearly estimate of $1.54 billion.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/11/10/3531403/state-revenue-perks-up-in-october.html?sp=/99/322/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy
Motor vehicle usage tax receipts fell 4.3 percent for the month and have declined 1.4 percent so far this year. Motor fuels taxes increased 0.8 percent in October and have grown 1.4 percent for the year.
Driskell said October’s Road Fund performance is not unexpected.
“Road Fund collections continue to be weak, as we anticipated. Growth in motor fuels tax collections is limited by a decline in demand,” she said.
“Motor vehicle usage tax receipts have been hampered by the impact of recent legislation which provides for a new car trade-in. It is anticipated that the credit will reduce collections by $34 million in the current fiscal year.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s new fiscal year is getting off to a positive start.
State budget director Jane Driskell reported Monday that Kentucky’s General Fund, which pays for most programs, saw its receipts total $705.9 million in July, a 2.2 percent increase over the same month last year.
July was the first month of the state’s new 2015 fiscal year.
When the last fiscal year ended June 30, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear had to plug a $91 million shortfall in the state’s $9.5 billion budget after a year of sluggish collections on state income taxes.
He did that by dipping into budget accounts of several state agencies, taking $21.2 million from the state’s $98.2 million” rainy day” or emergency fund and cutting $3 million in state spending.
Driskell said the General Fund growth of 2.2 percent in July is “a positive sign – especially since our two largest taxes – individual income and sales tax – grew at robust levels of 5.9 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.
“Our expectations are that the underlying economic momentum continues to build.”
The official revenue estimate for fiscal year 2015 calls for revenue to increase 3.6 percent compared to last year’s actual receipts.
Based on July’s results, General Fund revenues need to increase 3.7 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year to meet the official estimate.
Among the state’s major accounts in July, individual income tax receipts rose 5.9 percent, sales tax revenue grew 7.6 percent, cigarette tax collections rose 2.3 percent and the payment to the state from the lottery increased by 3.1 percent.
But corporation income tax collections fell 64.6 percent. The state attributed that to a large one-time payment received in July 2013.
In July 2014, coal severance tax revenues declined 14.8 percent and property tax receipts fell 45 percent. Driskell noted that a small share of property tax receipts is received in July.
Driskell also announced that Road Fund revenues for July totaled $125.4 million, an increase of 5.1 percent compared to last July.
“Growth in the important Road Fund accounts was small but positive in July,” she said. “That is good news given that the forecast for fiscal year 2015 has Road Fund receipts declining slightly.”
For July, motor fuels tax receipts rose 2.8 percent, motor vehicle usage tax jumped 1.4 percent and license and privilege taxes grew 36.3 percent. Non-tax receipts dropped 30.9 percent.
The official revenue estimate for this new fiscal year calls for revenues to decline 0.9 percent compared to last year’s actual receipts.
Based on July’s receipts, revenue can fall 1.4 percent for the rest of the fiscal year and still meet budgeted levels.
“Comment on Kentucky,” a public-affairs show of the Kentucky Educational Television network, will be preempted this weekend because of the Fourth of July.
On the Monday, July 7, edition of “Kentucky Tonight” at 8 p.m. on KET and at KET.org/live, host Bill Goodman and guests will discuss the state budget and tax reform.
Scheduled guests are state Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, chair of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee; state Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee; Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy; and Bryan Sunderland, senior vice president of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to email@example.com or use the message form at KET.org/kytonight. Viewers may also submit questions on Twitter @BillKET or on KET’s Facebook page, facebook.com/KET. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.
“Kentucky Tonight” programs are archived online, made available via podcast, and rebroadcast on KET and KET KY. Archived programs, information about podcasts, and broadcast schedules are available at KET.org/kytonight.
“Kentucky Tonight” is a weekly KET production, produced by Deidre Clark. Bill Goodman is host and managing editor.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Kentucky will reap an extra $57.2 million over the next three years from settling litigation involving the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between states and tobacco companies, Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway announced Thursday.
In a joint news conference in the Capitol, Beshear said the end of the legal dispute between 23 states, including Kentucky, and tobacco manufacturers over 10 years of disputed claims and litigation is “a victory not only for Kentucky farmers, but also for critical health care and childhood services.”
Conway said the settlement his office worked on “restores certainty to Kentucky’s annual payments” from the 1998 agreement.
“Under the terms of the settlement, we avoid the possibility of costly litigation and the potential loss of the entire annual Master Settlement Agreement payment.”
Money from the settlement agreement already is designated for farm projects and health issues like lung cancer research.
Beshear acknowledged that the extra money for the state will not have an impact on a budget shortfall Kentucky expected at the end of this fiscal year on June 30.