Local News Next Louisville Politics

Fischer Says New Federal Grants May Be Limited For Cities

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says large-scale federal assistance for cities is likely out of the question for the next two years.

Like many cities, Louisville took advantage of federal stimulus dollars to complete long-planned projects in 2009 and 10.

Fischer and several other mayors met with President Barack Obama Friday. And Fischer says there wasn’t much talk of further government spending for cities.

“It doesn’t look hopeful that there’s going to be a lot of federal money. Obviously the stimulus funds are over. The tax cut will have more of a bottom-up effect on the economy with more spending on the retail level. But I don’t anticipate a lot of big spending on federal programs,” he says. “It mainly was about continuing funds like Community Development Block Grants like going into cities and getting leverage for terms, making sure those programs stay in effect as much as possible. The focus was on education; obviously our country is falling behind.”

Fischer says the president did talk about using community development block grants and other existing programs. The meeting came at the end of the winter gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which began Thursday. Fischer also met with members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation. He says they discussed Louisville’s needs and transportation issues. Specifically, Fischer says he hopes proposed cuts to the Ohio River Bridges Project will not lead to more delays as federal studies are updated.

Local News Next Louisville Politics

Fischer In Washington For Conference Of Mayors Meeting

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is in Washington D.C. this week for the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting.

Former Mayor Jerry Abramson was once president of the group. Fischer spokesperson Chris Poynter says the change in mayors in Louisville is not likely to cost the city any clout in the conference.

“Many mayors who serve for many years have stepped out and are no longer serving. There are actually many new mayors who will be there this week, and Greg is just one among them,” he says.

The conference will focus primarily on jobs and the economy, but Poynter says Fischer will attend a session on the environment and sewer systems. Fischer will meet with Congressman John Yarmuth and President Barack Obama on Friday before returning to Louisville.

“He’ll be talking with Yarmuth about funding needs in Louisville and with the President, he’ll be talking about jobs and where the nation is headed on the slow road to recovery,” says Poynter.

Other mayors will attend the meeting with Mr. Obama.

Local News Politics

Senator Scott Brown Discusses Repeals, Cuts At U Of L

Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts visited the University of Louisville Monday.

Brown won a special election earlier this year to replace the late Ted Kennedy and broke the Democrats’ supermajority in the Senate. In a speech at the McConnell Center, Brown said he was elected to, among other things, fight President Barack Obama’s agenda.

“A whole host of things led to me being the 41st Senator,” he said. “I’m still the 41st Senator. Mr. Leader, you know that. But so is every other Republican.”

Brown said he hopes for more moderate legislation now that the GOP has gained more seats in the Senate and control of the House.

“Now we got some people. Now we can really go and start to work on these initiatives that were passed. And there are a ton of provisions within them that can be done better or fixed better or eliminated altogether, and that’s what we’re going to try to figure out,” he said, specifically referring to the healthcare overhaul and the financial reform bill, the latter of which he supported.

Brown’s speech also focused on reducing spending and keeping taxes at their current levels. When asked where spending cuts should be made, he said that could be determined through a thorough review of all government programs.

“There are a lot of programs that are just obsolete and we need to get them lean and mean. And where other programs need money to do better, great,” he said. “But to list some specific ones, right now, that’s not something I’m going to do, but I think we need to highlight the issues I just referred to.”

Local News

Ivy Tech, JCTC Presidents To Attend White House Summit

Two Hoosiers and two Kentuckians will be attend the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges Tuesday in Washington. The summit will be focused mainly on improving education accessibility and attainment.

Among those invited to the summit are Jefferson Community and Technical College president Tony Newberry, Hopkinsville Community College president James Selbe, Ivy Tech student Michael Rice and Ivy Tech president Tom Snyder.

Snyder says he’s not sure what exactly will be discussed, but he hopes Pell Grant reform will be on the agenda.

“The way the system works with Pell Grant financial aid is the more you charge, the more Pell Grant money your students get,” he says. “Well, because we try to keep our costs low, we tend to disadvantage our own ability to grow because it’s a third-party payer system and we’re the low-cost provider.”

Snyder says he expects to field several questions as well, since Ivy Tech is a statewide system, and community college presidents may be looking for new ways to work with campuses in other counties and states.

Local News

Ivy Tech President, Student Invited To White House Summit

The President of Ivy Tech in Indiana has been invited to a White House summit on community colleges.

Tom Snyder and an Ivy Tech student were invited to speak with other presidents and students, as well as President Barack Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Snyder says he’s encouraged by the administration’s attention to community colleges because not enough Americans have college degrees or certificates. Snyder says there are three options to remedy the situation.

“Expand the four-year schools that are public and private: that would be very expensive in terms of structure and facilities. Expand the for-profit schools: to me, that would put a huge loan burden on top of students. Or, expand community colleges,” he says.

Snyder says he’s looking forward to discussing changes to Pell Grant awards and new strategies for how community colleges can work across state and county lines. The summit is next Tuesday. Hopkinsville Community College president James Selbe has also been invited.

Local News

Yarmuth Discusses Latest Obama Proposal

Third District Congressman John Yarmuth says President Barack Obama’s latest proposal to jump-start the economy will face some hurdles on Capitol Hill. But much of the difficulty may come from Democrats.

This week, Mr. Obama laid out a plan for 50 billion dollars in infrastructure spending and billions more in tax cuts for businesses. Yarmuth says he supports the plan.

“There are limited choices available to a government in trying to move the economy, and I think we are making the best use of the tools that we have. Most of that is to stimulate private activity,” he says. “That’s why the president is also calling for different tax credits for business, to stimulate their investment, not to invest federal dollars, but to stimulate their investment. Again, this is the type of program that makes sense for the American people, I hope that our Democratic majority is solidly behind them.”

Republicans, however, have criticized the plan for its cost and similarity to last year’s stimulus package.

“It would be hard to believe that Republicans would oppose those things,” says Yarmuth on the business tax cuts. “Because they historically have proposed them themselves. But it wouldn’t be the first time in the last couple years they have done that.”

Yarmuth says he expects the GOP to vigorously fight the proposal in Congress. He also expects some reluctance among Democrats, as many of them are facing difficult re-election campaigns. Yarmuth himself is seeking another term, facing Republican Todd Lally, Libertarian Ed Martin, and independent candidate Michael Hansen.

State of Affairs

President Obama's Election & What It Means about Race in the U.S.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
President Obama’s Election & What It Means about Race in the U.S.
It was widely agreed that the election of Barack Obama in November 2008 was a historically significant moment. The United States had its first African-American president, and it seemed even those with political differences knew that meant something. But what exactly did it mean? On Wednesday we’ll look at how Obama’s election and presidency has changed the conversation about race in this country – and how it hasn’t. Photo by Flickr user loop_oh

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Local News

KY Health Officials Watch Progress of Reform

While President Barack Obama takes his proposals for health care reform on the road for town-hall meetings in several states, Kentucky health care and government officials are studying ways to put stimulus package funding to work improving the state’s health care system.  The stimulus bill set aside $650 million for clinical and community-based prevention programs.  And University of Louisville’s Associate Vice President of Health Affairs, Shannon Turner, says officials are coordinating efforts to tap into those funds.

“From the university perspective, we’re looking at everything in the stimulus package, and the mayor’s office has a health care group that meets specifically to look at the health care aspect of the stimulus package,” says Turner.

Turner says several aspects of the President’s proposed reforms could benefit Kentucky, including electronic health records as well as more of an emphasis on preventive care.

Blog Archive Environment Blog

Nods to Science, Climate Change in Inaugural Address

There’s been quite a bit of talk about how President Barack Obama’s administration will renew the country’s commitment to science, as well as to the environment, which many feel took a back seat to politics during the Bush administration.

And, from the President’s address today, it sounds as though that will be more than just talk:

“We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”

In fact, on the newly redesigned White House Web site, the words “energy and environment” appear right on the front page, in the section about the President’s agenda.

I wonder, however, if anyone else was struck by the combination of these two pledges in one sentence of his speech:

“With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet.”

I thought global warming might get a bit more attention, but then again, a brand new president has to pack a lot into his inauguration speech.

Local News

Abramson Returns From Meeting With Obama, Jarrett

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson says the incoming presidential administration understands urban issues.

Abramson returned Thursday from a meeting with President-Elect Barack Obama and his transition team co-chair Valerie Jarrett. Abramson was one of a dozen mayors called to Chicago to discuss metropolitan issues.

One of the topics the mayors discussed was whom Obama should appoint to head his proposed Urban Policy Office.

“It is a policy thinker, it is an individual who understands how to put the pieces of the puzzle together in a more efficient way to be able to carry the message in it and create the investment,” says Abramson.

Abramson said the group also discussed the need for a federal stimulus package for infrastructure improvements. The President-Elect asked the mayors for a list of municipal projects that could be started in one or two months if stimulus package is passed, but there wasn’t talk about how big such a package would be.

“Neither the President-Elect nor Valerie Jarrett gave any specific numbers,” says Abramson. “They just said that it was going to be a specific number.”

Louisville’s wish list involves some $600 million in projects, including road and school improvements. He says he’s not sure when, or if, those projects would be completed without federal assistance.