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April 9, 2018

HIGHWAY DISTRICT 12 – Monday, April 9, 2018 – Work zones will multiply on state roads in the coming weeks. Motorists should be prepared to slow down and pay attention to prevent work zone wrecks. Twelve people died in work zone crashes in Kentucky last year; 233 people were injured, and most of them were drivers and their passengers.

“We want that number to be zero this year,” said Jimmy Queen, Work Zone Safety Coordinator for Highway District 12. “State workers can’t do this alone. People driving the roads must be our partners for safety.”

Lawrence County State Roads Maintenance Crew, part of Highway District 12, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, takes care of all state-maintained roadways in Lawrence County. Todd Moran is superintendent; Matt Reid is assistant superintendent. Crew members are (not in order; includes names of those absent for photo) John Adams, Gene Burchett, Robert Chaffin, James Copley, Steve Dunn, Brent Pack, William Pack, Greg Rice, Doug Scaggs, Rick Staniford, Nelson Thompson, Quentin Thompson, Joshua Trout, and Gary Wells. Lawrence County State Roads Maintenance Crew, part of Highway District 12, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, takes care of all state-maintained roadways in Lawrence County. Todd Moran is superintendent; Matt Reid is assistant superintendent. Crew members are (not in order; includes names of those absent for photo) John Adams, Gene Burchett, Robert Chaffin, James Copley, Steve Dunn, Brent Pack, William Pack, Greg Rice, Doug Scaggs, Rick Staniford, Nelson Thompson, Quentin Thompson, Joshua Trout, and Gary Wells.

 


Asphalt plants re-opened the first of the month. As weather becomes more reliable, drier, and warmer, state highway workers face an intense schedule of maintenance to clean and repair roadways in the seven counties of Highway District 12 – Lawrence, Johnson, Martin, Floyd, Knott, Pike, and Letcher.

Also, a number of major construction projects are scheduled in the coming months. Speed limits may be reduced in these zones. Traffic patterns may change without notice except for the warning signs posted in advance of the work zone.

Pay attention, keep your hands on the steering wheel, and slow down when you see WORK ZONE AHEAD signs. Do not wait until the last possible chance to merge when traffic is directed to one lane. Many work zone crashes are caused by drivers who speed ahead and try to merge just before their lane is blocked. “Not only is this dangerous, it’s rude and unnecessary,” Queen said. “You aren’t saving any time. In fact, if you drive 45 instead of 55 through a five-mile work zone, you only add 1.2 minutes to your travel time.”

Work zones are set up for a variety of maintenance situations: pothole patching; cleaning ditchlines, drains, and culverts; replacing cross drains; shoulder repair; rockfall and slide repair; brush and tree removal and spraying; grader patching; bridge work; fixing breaks and embankment failures; sign removal; roadkill pickup. There are also moving work zones, such as trucks that are striping fog lines and traffic lanes.

“We need to take care of each other on our roads,” Queen emphasized. “The best things you can do as a driver in a work zone are to pay attention; slow down; be patient; follow instructions on the signs; and keep a safe distance on all sides from heavy equipment, highway workers, and other people in the line of traffic.”

If you are traveling outside the district, before you get on the road, check out goky.ky.gov or use the free WAZE app for traffic and travel information. This could help you avoid long delays in construction areas.

 

 



The week of April 9-13 is national Work Zone Safety Week. The purpose is to focus people’s attention on how to avoid wrecks in highway work zones. #vestedinwzsafety

 

April 7, 2018

Massive showing of teachers could overtake the state Capitol again

 

If Gov. Matt Bevin exercises his veto power to strike down tax or budget measures favorable to public education, a massive showing of teachers could overtake the state Capitol again.

“If there are really problematic vetoes, it might be more of an escalated kind of scenario,” McKim said. “A turnout like (Monday’s rally) is possible.”“If there are really problematic vetoes, it might be more of an escalated kind of scenario,” McKim said. “A turnout like (Monday’s rally) is possible.”

“What happens next will be affected significantly by what the governor does,” said Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association.

The Kentucky legislature — which passed the tax reform and budget bills on Monday amid a raucous teacher protest — is not scheduled to meet again until April 13. Bevin has until midnight on that day to decide whether to veto those bills outright. He also could veto specific items in the budget bill.

Bevin has not said whether he intends to use the veto pen, but in a statement Monday he said both the tax and budget bills did not meet “basic standards of fiscal responsibility.”

The budget bill, in particular, contains several measures lobbied for by the state’s public educators, including an increase to per-pupil funding.

“We have a budget that largely has responded to the priorities that we identified,” said McKim, noting that teachers’ groups were happy to see that most cuts to public education originally proposed under Bevin’s January budget have been restored.

Educators will now be watching to see what Bevin does.
“If the governor makes problematic vetoes in the budget, if he vetoes important things, that could escalate things significantly,” McKim said.

Here’s what we know about what could happen:

Will teachers head back to Frankfort?

The board of directors for the Kentucky Education Association was scheduled to meet Tuesday evening, a day ahead of the group’s annual delegate assembly.

The assembly, which brings together 700 union members from across the state, is taking place in Louisville and lasts through Friday. The group’s next steps are sure to be discussed during the meeting, a union official said.

McKim said the Jefferson County Teachers Association plans to have a contingent of educators in Frankfort on the final days of the legislative session — April 13 and 14 — regardless of what actions Bevin takes.

Legislators’ first day back is a Friday, and Jefferson County Public Schools will no longer be on spring break.

McKim said the union has a “robust retired organization” that will make the trip to Frankfort. There may also be some teachers who “choose to take a personal day,” he said.

“If there are really problematic vetoes, it might be more of an escalated kind of scenario,” McKim said. “A turnout like (Monday’s rally) is possible.”

The public education advocacy group Save Our Schools Kentucky has already reserved the Capitol rotunda for the final two days of the session, according to Gay Adelmann, the group’s co-founder.

“We will be ready for whatever they have planned,” she said.
Are teachers and their supporters satisfied with the current budget?
Lost in the noise of Monday’s massive rally was the fact that the budget satisfied many teachers’ demands — including restored funding for schoolbased resource centers and student transportation.

“Clearly the engagement statewide of so many educators and their allies has made a huge difference in what we saw as the final budget,” McKim said.

But education advocacy groups including the Prichard Committee said lawmakers need to invest further.

“Cuts to preschool services and other supports for teaching and learning, like professional development and instructional materials, will create barriers to student success,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, the group’s executive director.

The legislature should work to find more revenue for education by passing additional tax reform before the session ends, Ramsey said.
What happened to this session’s school-choice bills?

A year after passing a controversial charter school law, Kentucky lawmakers were tasked this session with agreeing on a way to fund the state’s charter schools.

Going into Monday, funding for charter schools was included in the Senate’s version of tax reform. But by the time the legislature passed a tax bill, the funding had vanished.

“We’re disappointed it didn’t come through,” said Joel Adams of the Kentucky Charter School Project.

Also not included in the legislature’s tax overhaul was language for a scholarship tax credit program.

The program would have provided tax credits to individuals and businesses who donate money to private school scholarship funds.
Supporters of the bill say it would allow more low-income families to choose schools to best serve their children’s needs. The bill’s opponents say the tax credits would drain needed money from the state’s general fund.

Andrew Vandiver, associate director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, lobbied for the bill.

“I have sat in dozens of meetings with legislators over the last two years in which they said our issue should be handled in tax reform,” Vandiver said. “For the legislators to now go back on that commitment is extremely disappointing for all of these families that called and expressed their desire that Kentucky pass a school-choice law.”

Vandiver said groups in support of the tax credit program aren’t giving up. He said he expects many legislators to receive calls from supporters of the program over the next week.

“We’re not accepting ‘no’ for an answer,” he said. “The General Assembly has two more legislative days that it can come back in and it can pass this bill if it wants to.”

How will this affect elections this November?

On Tuesday, the Jefferson County teachers union asked its members through a Facebook post whether they would use a yard sign that read “Education Voter - I WILL Remember in November!”

By Wednesday morning, the post had received nearly 250 “likes.”
The union also posted a link instructing members to register to vote.
Chants about voting were a constant refrain at Monday’s rally in Frankfort, with hundreds of teachers threatening to vote lawmakers out of office who didn’t comply with their demands.

At the same time, educators across the state have mounted campaigns of their own.

Adelmann said Save Our Schools has helped to recruit 40 educators to run for office since last year.

Adelmann, a parent of a Jefferson County Public Schools graduate, has signed up to run herself. She is running against state Sen. Julie Raque Adams, a Louisville Republican.

“We recognize that not all of us are going to win,” Adelmann said. “But there is such a war on public education right now that we cannot afford to have people running unopposed without hearing what’s really going on.”

By Mandy McLaren
Louisville Courier Journal

April 6, 2018

Conservative think-tank says the budget bill will increase Kentucky’s attractiveness to businesses

A new study of the tax bill rushed through the Kentucky General Assembly Monday shows the changes it makes to the tax code are likely to lower taxes for the wealthy while raising taxes for 95 percent of Kentuckians.

The analysis, performed by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington D.C., a liberal-leaning think tank, studied the impact of the tax cuts and increases on Kentuckians.

The bill applies Kentucky’s 6 percent sales tax to 17 services, increases the cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack, and cuts the individual and corporate income tax to a flat 5 percent tax. It also cuts some typical tax deductions, including those for medical expenses, medical insurance, paid taxes and investment income.

“When sales taxes are increased, it’s going to hit lower-income people harder,” said Aidan Davis, a senior policy analyst with the institute.

According to the study, the top 1 percent of Kentuckians will see an average tax cut of $7,086 from the plan. People who make between $175,000 and $427,000 a year are likely to see an average tax cut of $776. Anyone who makes below $175,000 is likely to see a tax increase of $93 to $213.

The bulk of the increase for Kentuckians comes from the sales tax.

Most Kentuckians will see their individual income tax bill drop, but the increased sales taxes and loss of tax deductions outweigh the income tax cut.

The increases that generate the most revenue, such as the cigarette tax and adding the sales tax to car repairs, tend to disproportionately affect those who make less.

Pam Thomas a policy analyst for the liberal leaning Kentucky Center of Economic PolicyPam Thomas a policy analyst for the liberal leaning Kentucky Center of Economic Policy“In the long-run, state funding for education and other services will be undermined by this effort to move away from taxes on corporations and high-income earners, and toward slower-growing, more regressive cigarette taxes and sales taxes instead,” said Pam Thomas, a policy analyst for the liberal-leaning Kentucky Center of Economic Policy.

When asked if the bill is a tax break for the wealthy, House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne, R-Prospect, issued a statement citing a study by the Tax Foundation, a conservative think-tank, that says the bill will increase Kentucky’s attractiveness to businesses.

“When crafting the proposal, we were focused on broadening the base and lowering the tax rate through comprehensive tax reform — and that’s exactly what we accomplished,” Osborne said.

House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne, R-ProspectHouse Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne, R-ProspectThe Tax Foundation said the tax plan will boost Kentucky from 33rd to 18th on its State Business Tax Climate Index.

While the legislature didn’t target any of the services that have a powerful lobby in Frankfort, such as lawyers and accountants, they clearly tried to target services that would affect high-income Kentuckians. They levied sales taxes on country clubs, landscaping services, limousine services and golf courses.

But those taxes don’t represent a significant portion of wealthy Kentuckians’ income and serve as a small source of revenue for the state compared to the cigarette tax and the tax on auto repairs.

“It doesn’t really pan out that way because of the population of Kentucky,” Davis said. “These are services that are not used that much.”

By Daniel Desrochers
Lexington Herald-Leader