State revenue up 2.2 percent in July
FRANKFORT (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.
Appellate panel upholds dismissal in bridge case
FRANKFORT (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.
Bill Clinton to headline Arkansas Democrats event
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton is headed back to Arkansas to raise money for the state Democratic Party.
A fundraiser is planned for Friday at the Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock. Clinton will headline the $250-per-person event and will be joined by Gov. Mike Beebe and Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Vince Insalaco.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is also scheduled to attend, along with U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. John de Jongh. Democrat Pat Hays, who is running for the open 2nd Congressional District seat in central Arkansas, is also scheduled to appear at the fundraiser.
Clinton has already appeared at several fundraisers in Arkansas in support of Democrats running for office this fall, including a May event in Little Rock backing gubernatorial hopeful Mike Ross.
Central Ky. father charged in death of infant
MULDRAUGH (AP) — Police have charged a central Kentucky man with murder in the death of his infant son.
Muldraugh Police Chief Charlie Ashbaugh told The News-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/1sTQjRq) that 23-year-old Eric Braddam was arrested Friday in the death of the 7-week-old child.
Police responded on Thursday to a report of an unresponsive infant, who was taken to Hardin Memorial Hospital, where he died.
The child’s body was sent to the medical examiner’s office in Louisville, which told police that the boy died from “traumatic brain injury consistent with that of the child being shaken,” according to a statement.
Braddam is being held at the Meade County jail. It wasn’t clear whether he has an attorney.
JCPS adding 15 mental health counselors
LOUISVILLE (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 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.
Program offers low-interest loans to farmers
LEXINGTON (AP) — Kentucky farmers and ranchers still have time to apply for low-interest loans through the Farm Service Agency’s direct farm ownership program.
Kentucky FSA Executive Director John W. McCauley says the deadline to submit applications is Sept. 30.
Eligible producers can borrow up to $300,000 in direct farm ownership loans to buy or enlarge a farm, construct new farm buildings or improve structures, pay closing costs or promote soil and water conservation.
The interest rate on select loans can be as low as 1.5 percent with up to 40 years to repay.
McCauley says the program offers a chance for more farmers and ranchers to get low-interest loans to start their first farm or expand an existing farm.