- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Bill would raise Ky.’s motor fuels tax rate

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s motor fuels tax would rise under a bill advanced Tuesday by a key House committee, which endorsed restoring a higher rate in place last year to generate more revenue for transportation projects statewide.

The measure would increase the tax at the pump by 1.5 cents a gallon from the current level, which automatically took effect at the start of 2014.

The tax is scheduled to drop another seven-tenths of a cent per gallon on April 1 without the proposed change.

The bill, part of a broader revenue measure, would adjust the formula that helps set the tax on sales of gasoline, diesel and ethanol.

Gov. Steve Beshear proposed the change in January to supply additional revenue for road and bridge work across the state.

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee endorsed the change Tuesday while passing the revenue measure.


State budget plan includes $234 million for raises

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The proposed Kentucky state budget includes $234 million to give raises to more than 136,000 state workers.

The raises vary from 5 percent to 1 percent for state workers and judicial employees in 2015, with the largest raises reserved for employees who make less than $27,000 a year. In 2016, all state workers would receive a 1 percent raise.

The state’s 100,000 teachers and other school employees would get a 2 percent raise in 2015 and a 1 percent raise in 2016.

The raises for state workers, first proposed by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, passed the House budget committee Tuesday.

The judicial branch had asked for $16 million to give raises to its 3,300 nonelected employees. But state lawmakers budgeted $7.6 million.

“Twenty-five percent of our workforce now is working at a salary below the federal poverty guideline for a family of four,” Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton said. “That’s where we would focus our attention first.”


Ohio River bridge closed after worker injured

MADISON, Ind. (AP) - Thousands of commuters will face detours of up to 45 miles after authorities closed an Ohio River bridge linking Madison, Ind., and Milton, Ky., early Tuesday following an accident involving a construction worker.

Transportation officials from both states said a worker was injured when a steel bearing plate between the Milton-Madison Bridge and pier dislodged and struck him. Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said the worker suffered minor injuries and was treated and released at a Madison hospital.

The accident will force commuters to find other routes across the river until further notice and will delay the movement of the new bridge to the site of its predecessor, authorities said.

“We recognize this is a major inconvenience for people who rely on the bridge regularly,” Dav Kessinger, project manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said in a statement. “We’re working diligently with Walsh, the construction contractor, to resolve this issue and to safely reopen the bridge as quickly as possible.”

Work began in late 2010 on a $100 million project to replace the old bridge. The new half-mile span was scheduled to be moved beginning Friday from its temporary supports across steel rails onto rehabilitated piers of the previous bridge.

Wingfield said bearing plates are designed to allow for natural expansion and contraction of the bridge. The worker was installing equipment as part of the project to move the bridge to its new location, he said.


Kentucky registers 55,000 for health insurance

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Nearly 55,000 people have signed up for private health insurance through Kentucky’s state health insurance marketplace, according to the latest figures from the federal government.

Through March 1, 54,945 people have selected a health plan through Kynect, the state-run health insurance marketplace for people who do not have health insurance through their employer.

The federal government originally estimated Kentucky would have signed up 122,000 by now. But various technical problems have caused many states to lower those projections.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s office says nearly 280,000 people have signed up for health insurance, including 222,719 people through Medicaid, the joint federal and state health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

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