Local News

State Says Few Problems Reported On First Furlough Day

Kentucky Personnel Secretary Nikki Jackson says the state’s first furlough day earlier this month went smoothly. She says it was equitable and transparent and all effort was made to minimize the impact to the public. Jackson told the House and Senate budget committees she’s heard no grumbling.

“Two of the agencies in particular – Cabinet for Health and Family services, and the Justice Cabinet – shared with me that they hadn’t received any comments from employees over that weekend,” she says. “There were actually a few employees who were sharing stories about what they were doing over that weekend and how some of them were just trying their best to take advantage of the time with their families and friends.”

September 3rd was the first of six furlough days state employees are taking this fiscal year to help reduce a 131-million dollar budget deficit. Gov. Beshear sought approval of the furloughs from the General Assembly, which granted his request in the May special session on the budget.

Local News

Hearing Today On Furlough Suit

Union members suing to block the furlough of state employees in Kentucky will be in court late this afternoon in Frankfort.

In a May special session, Kentucky lawmakers gave Gov. Beshear the green light to furlough state workers to help balance the budget. Soon thereafter, Beshear ordered both merit and non-merit employees to take six furlough days this fiscal year to save the state $24 million.

“I don’t like furloughs myself, but we’re having to take that action in order to avoid firing about 400 state employees. I think they understand that, and we’ll work through those issues,” he said.

But a half-dozen state employees, all members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, are suing to block the furloughs. They fear furloughs, especially in state prisons, could jeopardize public safety.

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"Arts Day" is Wednesday in Frankfort

Arts advocates will meet in Frankfort Wednesday to make their case for public support. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

A group called Arts Kentucky is hosting what has become an annual event with a rally in the Capitol Rotunda and meetings between arts leaders, patrons and legislators.

Jay Dick of the national non-profit organization Americans for the Arts is coming for his fifth Arts Day in Frankfort.

Dick is talking about how the arts benefit economies and how the arts are faring in other states and nationally.

Dick says some of the $50 million allocated for the National Endowment for the Arts in the recent stimulus bill passed by U.S. House would have gone to Kentucky.

“Forty percent of that is scheduled to go directly to the states,” Dick says. “So Kentucky could probably see an additional two or three hundred thousand dollars.”

Last Friday, lawmakers in the U.S. Senate voted to eliminate the $50 million slated for the arts from the stimulus package. Arts advocates are calling for it to be reinstated.

Meanwhile, state governments are grappling with budget deficits, Dick says.

“The new goal for many states and many state budgets is flat funding, that is the new increase. So it’s going to be a very difficult year,” he says.

He says although he has seen many legislators come to appreciate and support what the arts accomplish in Kentucky, he doesn’t expect state funding to rise in this economy.

The economic downturn has prompted state government to cut the Kentucky Arts Council’s current budget by more than 16 percent. Meanwhile, Kentucky Repertory Theatre in Horse Cave is struggling to stay open and several Louisville arts organizations have hiring freezes.

Local News

Daniels Says Federal Rescue Plan "Beat Doing Nothing"

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says he believes the federal goverment made the best of a bad situation by attempting to rescue the nation’s financial sector with the $700 billion package approved by Congress last week.

Daniels, who led the White House Office of Management and Budget during President
Bush’s first term, says it will take some time for the plan to be effective.

Meanwhile, he says state governments will continue to struggle.

“In our four years we’ve never had great revenue growth, it’s been pretty modest, but you’ve got to have some, and so, yes, if it goes on like this, it will at least require the stretch out of some of the objectives i hope we can agree upon as Hoosiers,” Daniels said.

Daniels is seeking a second term as governor. The Republican faces opposition from Democrat Jill Long Thompson and Libertarian Andy Horning in next month’s general election.