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February 23, 2018

Republican lawmakers said legislation aimed at overhauling Kentucky’s pension system for government employees and retirees could save taxpayers $4.8 billion over the next 30 years while also eliminating an unfunded liability of more than $40 billion.

Pensions GOP meeting: State Sen. Joe Bowen, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Pro Tem David OsbornePensions GOP meeting: State Sen. Joe Bowen, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne


While they tried to build public sentiment for the measure that was filed late Tuesday, government workers and retirees came out strongly against it, saying lawmakers should have found ways to generate more revenue, rather than relying on structural changes to restore financial solvency to the plan.


State Sen. Joe Bowen, the chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee where the bill will have its first hearing in about a week, said one important component of the process has been sharing the risk.





GOP lawmakers talked about the pension reform bill :

Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker David Osborne and state Sen. Joe Bowen. (Photo by Tom Latek/Kentucky Today)

“The taxpayers had assumed all of the risk in these plans and we addressed that,” said the Owensboro Republican. “Now the risk is being spread out, and that’s a major concern for a lot of folks out there. Not necessarily the folks in the system, but the people that are ultimately responsible for funding the system, the taxpayers.”




Bowen, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne met with reporters in the Capitol Annex on Wednesday morning to provide details about the measure that was introduced Tuesday night.

They did not release a written copy of the actuarial analysis showing where the savings would come. 


Stivers cautioned the actual amount of the unfunded liability is a moving target.


“If you go from year to year, it can go from $30 to $40 million to sometimes being $100 million, almost $1 billion in some years,” he said.




Before filing the overhaul legislation, Republican lawmakers removed a provision that would have moved new hires into a mandatory 401 (k)-style system.




“There were some people who felt very strongly from an ideological standpoint that we needed to transition to a defined contribution plan,” Osborne said. “But when the data came back, it didn’t support financially our ability to do that. 


”When we’re making difficult budget decisions right now, it’s very difficult to stand on ideology, when we’re making significant cuts to programs across the spectrum of the budget.”




Under the overhaul, teachers with less than 20 years on the job would have to work until age 60 with at least 35 years of service to avoid a reduced pension. 


Future teachers would enroll in a cash-balance plan that reflected investment returns in their individual accounts, rather than a traditional defined-benefit pension.


State employees would no longer be permitted to use accumulated sick days to earn time toward their 27 years of service retirement.




“If they had a year and a half of sick day credits, they could stop working at 25-and-a-half years and get credit for 27,” Stivers said.

“You’ll now have to get to 27 years before you use them.”




According to Stivers, a big component in eliminating the unfunded liability is putting more money in the system. 




“The only thing we were doing was making part of the interest payment and re-amortizing it into the principle,” he said. “We’re going to start the liabilities down by additional contributions from the General Fund.”


The Kentucky Public Pension Coalition said in a press release the bill was unacceptable.

“After a brief review, we are very concerned about many aspects of the bill that harm dedicated public servants, including unfairly reducing the benefits they have earned. We look forward to a more in-depth review of the bill in coming days.”




Bowen said the bill, which was introduced Tuesday, was the culmination of six months of hard work.




“I, for one, don’t think anyone can really find any fault with what we’ve done,” he said.

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

 

FEBRUARY 20, 2018

Open House set for 5:30 tonight (Feb, 20) at ACTC to meet with landowners

ASHLAND, Ky., February 20, 2018 – Kentucky Power is strengthening the power grid and increasing economic development opportunities in eastern Kentucky with plans for significant upgrades to the electric transmission system in Boyd County.

Mike Lasslo, Kentucky Power’s reliability manager, discusses a planned transmission project at EastPark Industrial park. The project will serve Braidy Industries and others.  Mike Lasslo, Kentucky Power’s reliability manager, discusses a planned transmission project at EastPark Industrial park. The project will serve Braidy Industries and others.

The EastPark Transmission Project consists of building approximately 3 miles of 138- kilovolt transmission line and a new substation to provide electric service to Braidy Industries’ planned aluminum mill facility in the EastPark Industrial Center. Once complete, the work will provide the 1,000-acre business park with a reliable and robust power source capable of handling continued customer growth.

“Transmission improvement projects such as the EastPark project represent meaningful investment in eastern Kentucky,” said Kentucky Power President and COO Matt Satterwhite. “The East Park project not only will allow Kentucky Power to meet all of Braidy’s electrical needs, but also will modernize our power delivery system to continue to provide safe and reliable electrical service to other customers in the area.”

Kentucky Power will host an open house to provide project details to the community and affected landowners. The company is asking landowners to provide feedback on study segments to help determine a proposed route. The proposed transmission line will connect to the existing Chadwick-KES Transmission line near Kentucky Electric Steel just north of Interstate 64. From there, study segments travel to the northwest going on each side of the Champion Fastpitch Athletic Complex to an endpoint at the proposed substation in the EastPark Industrial Center.

The open house is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, February 20, at Ashland Community and Technical College, Technology Drive, 902 Technology Dr., off Route 67, Industrial Parkway, near Grayson.

“The open house provides an opportunity for us to interact directly with landowners about the project,” Satterwhite said. “Getting feedback early in the process will help us choose a route that best minimizes impact to the community and the environment.”

After the open house, project team members will use information gathered from landowners and the community to work toward a proposed route. Kentucky Power plans to file for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity with the Kentucky Public Service Commission this spring. Upon approval, construction is expected to start this fall and be complete by the end of 2019. Additional information, maps, a timeline and updates are posted at www.kentuckypower.com/EastPark.

 

February 15, 2018

TRUMP'S MONTHLY BOX OF FOOD FOR OUR POOR

 

By Dr. Glenn Mollette

Back in the seventies my dad brought some delicious cheese home from our local town. "They were giving this cheese out in front of the courthouse so I picked some up" he said. The cheese was all part of the so called fight against poverty. My dad was a hard-working coal mining man so we had food to eat. However, who is going to turn down free cheese? The cheese was actually pretty good.

Processed cheese developed by James L. Kraft of Illinois in 1916 became a mass production of Colby and cheddar with curds and emulsifiers that tasted good and had a very long shelf life. The cheese would become a staple of the American diet but also a symbol of American poverty. Through the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program a significant portion of America's low income people were eating cheese packaged and distributed by our government.

The seventies were a while back but today we are hearing that America is going to advance to a new solution for feeding our hungry. The current administration is proposing that America help the hungry with government-picked, nonperishable food every month instead of food stamps or at least replacing some of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP. Of course this sounds better than passing out cheese to low income families. Digestive systems respond differently to the intake of cheese. Distributing healthy food to low income families sounds interesting. We all need to eat healthy.

When I was a child my first encounter with helping out the hurting was watching advertisements on television about donating for CARE packages to the poor in other countries. We now are hearing about a CARE package from Uncle Sam to America's low income people. I do not know what the packages will contain but I have heard canned fruit, chicken or fish, beans and among other things peanut butter. You can never go wrong with peanut butter. What about nuts? I've heard a handful of nuts every day are good for you? What about salmon? Alaska has a lot of salmon. I would like to see more wild Alaska salmon distributed in America instead all the farm raised salmon which is not supposed to be very healthy.

Unfortunately, I don't think the CARE package to America's low income families is the solution to saving America. The idea behind this new endeavor is to cut America's costs. We are trillions of dollars in debt and now the current administration with this new budget is recommending increasing our debt even more to so we can increase defense spending. I'm not opposed to increasing our defense spending. I am very opposed to all of the wars in the Middle East and nation-building which is driving us further into debt. Why would we jump on America's most vulnerable hurting people to solve our nation's economic woes?

I agree the food stamp or SNAP program needs help. The overhaul should limit Americans to five years of lifetime use of the program. No one should be allowed to buy soda pop, cookies and candy on the program. I suppose ice cream might be okay. The emphasis should be buying healthy food at the stores. Americans are already very obese and buying junk food through the SNAP program is adding to America's debilitation. I also hear stories of Americans buying a lot of soda pop and selling it cheap for cash to buy drugs. There definitely must be some reform on how much junk food can be bought through the SNAP program.

Sending low income Americans a box of food or requiring them to line up at a government distribution center reminds me of something I've seen on television maybe like from Russia or Germany. Are we going to force our poor to line up and get their food rations for the month?

I think the idea of America's corporations paying less in tax dollars should be good for America if it will keep factories in our country. I agree with this move. We need the jobs. However, if we are going to make up the difference by cutting back on Social Security, Medicare and SNAP recipients then we are not a very good people. The idea of corporations paying less in taxes is to stimulate our economy which should mean more cash flow, more tax dollars to help our nation and more money to pay down our debt if that's how we are going to use the extra money.

Charities across America give out water, food baskets and used clothing. Most of them provide a respectful service. The government of the United States of America can do better by our poor than a monthly box of food.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.

READ HIS NEW BOOK - UNCOMMON SENSE

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