- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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Oct. 10

Lexington Herald-Leader on how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deals with Kentucky’s economic plight:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is right to go to bat for Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College which is at risk of losing critical federal and state financial aid because of high default rates on education loans among its students.

The region’s dire economic state is beyond the college’s control, as McConnell has said. “If students are unable to find jobs, they are unable to pay their student loans and not everyone can afford to move to a different region,” a McConnell spokeswoman explained.

But the college’s plight is just one symptom of a terminal economic illness that McConnell has shown little interest in curing. McConnell has done almost nothing to diversify the economy of Eastern Kentucky, which has remained one of this country’s poorest places, during his 32 years in the Senate.

If his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act succeed, not only would people lose health care, the region also would lose critical health-care jobs on top of the thousands of coal jobs lost in recent years.

Instead of solutions, McConnell has peddled the dubious promise that mining jobs would come back if not for Obama era efforts to lighten coal’s environmental footprint.

Now we’ll discover if that’s true.

In Hazard with McConnell on Monday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt proclaimed, “The war against coal is over.”

Pruitt came to coal country to announce that the Trump administration is revoking the Clean Power Plan, President Barack Obama’s blueprint for combating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Pruitt’s announcement, part of a rollback of environmental and worker-safety rules for the coal industry, comes as six in 10 Americans say they want the government to combat climate change, on the heels of three record-breaking storms in two months, and as wildfires ravage California.

But what will easing the rules do for Kentucky’s eastern coalfield?

Not much, if you listen to experts who blame Eastern Kentucky’s loss of coal jobs on competition from cheaper, cleaner natural gas and the high cost of mining depleted coal reserves.

Since Trump became president, coal production in Eastern Kentucky has increased but the number of coal jobs in the second quarter was down 2 percent from the year before.

Power plants are switching to natural gas so quickly that the utility industry is on target to meet the Clean Power Plan goals, even though the plan never went into effect because a court stopped it.

Coal was a huge part of Eastern Kentucky’s past, but it’s not the region’s future.

McConnell is right to try to shield community colleges from being penalized for serving people in poor places. An amendment he’s proposing would protect Southeastern and other colleges in distressed Appalachian counties.

As the most powerful Kentuckian in Congress in 80 years, there’s so much more he could do.

The people of Kentucky’s mountains are far from the only Americans being left behind by economic displacement. They, along with other rural and post-industrial areas, need more than pandering from their elected leaders.

Young people in Eastern Kentucky and elsewhere deserve better options than a life of underemployment and poverty or a one-way ticket out.

Online: https://www.kentucky.com/

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Oct. 6

The Daily News of Bowling Green on the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport leasing land:

The Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport sits on very fertile and expensive land in the middle of a booming part of town and is becoming surrounded by existing and pending development.

Our airport provides a valuable service to many people in the community. Some residents have their own planes, other airplanes bring parts and other items for businesses quite often and we also have a commercial air service, Contour Airlines, that flies people to Destin, Fla., and back each year.

The airport generates some money, but like any business it looks for ways to potentially generate more. One such way we think the airport can do this is by leasing some of the land it possesses to potential investors to build upon. The airport board is considering leasing about 53 acres of the airport’s land fronting Lovers Lane for unspecified commercial development. Airport officials have said they have had several investors approach them about leasing the land.

This really seems like a no-brainer for the airport as just one more way to bring in additional revenue. The airport is owned jointly by the city and county and governed by an appointed board, which would make any final decision on a potential lease agreement. Some of the airport’s 566 acres are already leased to surrounding entities, such as car dealerships and to farmers who grow crops on the land.

Because of Federal Aviation Administration restrictions, the airport can’t sell the land, so it would like to do a long-term lease. All indications are that it would be a 50-year lease. After the lease ends, the land would revert back to the airport. The development would have to be compatible with the noise from being so close to an airport, such as retail or office space, and the FAA has to approve every step of the process, including any potential uses.

Leasing this prime piece of real estate, where everything around it is booming, really has the potential to be a plus for the airport. Leasing this now-unused land that has no agriculture on it would be a terrific way to generate funds for operations at the airport.

We are definitely behind the airport’s proposal of leasing this land. It is a great way to generate extra revenue and also expand in an area that really is expanding in a pretty big way.

Online: https://www.bgdailynews.com/

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Oct. 7

The State Journal on the Kentucky secretary of state’s bipartisan effort to stop statewide hunger:

We commend Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on her bipartisan effort to help feed the state’s families who suffer from hunger.

Grimes’ office has launched the Commonwealth of Kentucky Bowl, a statewide challenge for local and county governments to gather non-perishable food and monetary donations to help those in need.

Statistics show that 1-in-4 children and 1-in-5 adults in the Bluegrass do not know where their next meal will come from and an estimated 700,000 Kentuckians are food insecure.

Grimes’ goal is to raise 400,000 pounds of food and/or $50,000 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the legislation that created the Area Development Districts. The challenge runs Oct. 16 through Oct. 27.

Her office has partnered with Kentucky Association of Food Banks (KAFB), the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts (KDADD) and the Kentucky Association of Food Banks to sponsor the challenge.

By turning this effort into a competition, we believe more people will be willing to lend a hand, money or food donations.

Grimes has long been an advocate for hunger relief. As a child, she and her family served Thanksgiving dinner to the needy at the Salvation Army each November. She has also served on the board of God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington.

We also believe that by reaching across the aisle and making the competition not about politics, but about fulfilling a basic need of many Kentuckians, Grimes’ effort is to be praised.

As we roll into the holiday season, it is important to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. We should all follow Grimes’ example and give generously to those in need, because at some point we all need a hand and we are all in this together.

Perhaps Grimes summed it up best: “God gives us two hands for a reason - one to help ourselves and one to help others up.”

Online: https://www.state-journal.com

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