- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014
State revenue up 2.2 percent in July

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - State officials say Kentucky’s 2015 budget is off to a good start.

The state collected more than $705 million in taxes and fees in July. That’s 2.2 percent more than the state collected in July 2013.

Kentucky finished the 2014 fiscal year with a $90 million shortfall. State officials blamed the shortfall on sluggish income tax collections. Income tax collections were up 5.9 percent in July, which State Budget Director Jane Driskell said was a positive sign.

State officials planned for a 3.6 percent increase in revenue this year. Tax collections must increase by 3.7 percent for the rest of the year in order to make that goal.

The state’s road fund collected $125.4 million in July, mostly from gas taxes. State officials expect road fund revenue to decline this year.

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Appellate panel upholds dismissal in bridge case

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The dismissal of a lawsuit over the $2.3 billion Ohio River bridges under construction at Louisville has been upheld.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in rejecting claims that Kentucky and Indiana violated the National Environmental Protection Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The appeal was brought by the Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation. CART is a public transit and cycling advocacy group located in Louisville. The group did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Monday.

The organization alleged that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation violated federal environmental and civil rights laws.

But the appeals panel said in the ruling Thursday that there was no indication that the states violated the law.

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JCPS adding 15 mental health counselors

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Jefferson County Public Schools will offer mental health counseling this year to high-risk students and their families in an effort to decrease barriers to learning and disruptions in the classroom.

The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/1sGEDAv) reports the district has hired 15 counselors to help at different schools after principals said in a survey that a main priority is helping high-risk students.

One such counselor will be based at Wheatley Elementary School, where Principal William “B.J.” Bunton said instructional time is lost when teachers are left to deal with such situations.

“A lot of times, children don’t know how to express what they’re going through, so they act out,” Bunton said. “They don’t have the skills and strategies to cope.”

The counselors will help students who experience anxiety, grief and anger issues that aren’t part of routine disciplinary measures.

JCPS counselor specialist Michelle Sircy said the district put the counselors in locations with the largest number of students in need of counseling, but they will travel to other schools if the need arises.

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New life for Pioneer Museum artifacts

MOUNT OLIVET, Ky. (AP) - Change has been good for operators of Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park.

Following a two-year stretch of closed doors at the Pioneer Museum, a rededication of the facility is scheduled to coincide with the 232nd commemoration of the battle that gave the park its name.

A water problem at the museum in 2011 escalated into an air quality issue that forced the closure until changes could be made, officials said.

Now, there is a newly installed French drain system to detour water runoff from the hill behind the museum and changes inside to allow easier access for anyone wanting to visit the facility, park naturalist Paul Tierney said.

“All of the displays, and more items, which had been in the downstairs area, are now on the main floor for all to see,” Tierney said on Friday.

With a week before the Battle of Blue Licks re-enactment gets underway, Tierney was putting the final touches on displays in the older section of the museum.

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