economics

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A lawmaker from Hardin County is hoping Kentucky follows the example of Tennessee and other states that don’t impose an income tax on its residents.

Supporters say transitioning away from an income tax and increasing the state’s sales tax would make Kentucky more attractive to businesses.

Opponents say it would be a boon to the wealthy, while hurting low-income and vulnerable residents.

The effort to move Kentucky away from relying on income tax gained steam in 2018. That’s when Republican Governor Matt Bevin signed into law a massive overhaul of the state’s tax code.


GM Workers to Stay On Picket Line Until Vote on New Contract

Oct 18, 2019
Lisa Autry

Striking General Motors workers will stay on the picket lines for at least another week until they vote on a tentative contract with the company.

Factory-level officials from the United Auto Workers union voted to recommend the agreement to members at a daylong meeting in Detroit Thursday. But they also voted not to return to factories unless members approve the deal.

About 49,000 workers have been on strike for more than a month, paralyzing GM's U.S. factories and costing the company an estimated $2 billion.

Export Slump Deepens for American Whiskey Producers

Mar 21, 2019
Kevin Willis

For American whiskey producers, their tariff-induced hangover became more painful in late 2018 when a downturn in exports accelerated, especially in the European Union — the industry's biggest overseas market, an industry trade group said Thursday.

Overall exports of bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey fell 11 percent during the second half of 2018 compared to the prior-year six-month period as the impact of tariffs started to be felt, the Distilled Spirits Council said in a new report.

Last month, the council released an annual report that showed American whiskey exports had declined by 8.2 percent between July and November of 2018 compared to the prior-year period. But the report did not include December export figures.

Tariffs Take Toll on U.S. Whiskey Exports in Last Half of 2018

Feb 12, 2019
Abbey Oldham

Retaliatory tariffs caused a sharp downturn in American whiskey exports in the last half of 2018 as distillers started feeling the pain from global trade disputes, an industry trade group said Tuesday.

Exports to some key overseas markets gyrated wildly last year for producers of bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey. Overall, U.S. spirits exports in 2018 stayed on another record-setting trajectory, due in part to surging whiskey sales in the months leading up to the tariffs as larger distillers stockpiled supplies, the Distilled Spirits Council said. Other categories including vodka, brandy and rum also had strong overseas sales.

When U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio, in the 1950s, it was a thriving factory town with a busy port where freighters brought iron ore to be used in the steel mills of Pennsylvania.

Today, many of the biggest factories have long since left the region for low-wage places — taking a lot of jobs with them — and the port ships a fraction of the freight it once did.

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The partial government shutdown that had furloughed some 800-thousand employees is a stark reminder to workers that a regular paycheck is not a guarantee. 

Jeanne Fisher, a Certified Financial Planner with Argi Financial in Bowling Green, said the key to surviving a financial interruption is to be proactive.

"If you have some medical debt out or your mortgage payment (and) it’s a Community bank, no matter what it is, contacting them and explaining you know this is the situation I’m in, asking for extensions, asking for fees and penalties to be waived.  Anyone that you are struggling to make a payment to is going to appreciate and probably respond more positively if you are proactive as opposed to if you just ignore them.”

Lisa Autry

A new report shows Kentucky has actually added fewer jobs in the 21 months since the controversial right-to-work law was passed in 2017, compared to the same time period before it was enacted.

Laws known as right-to-work prohibit unions from being able to collect what are known as “fair share fees”. Those fees are imposed on non-union employees in exchange for the benefits of being in a unionized workplace.

A report from the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy examines how the law has impacted jobs in the state.

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New research finds that Kentucky law puts those who take out installment loans at risk. The Pew Charitable Trust is calling for more protection and transparency for borrowers. This type of lending hasn’t been researched as much as payday loans until now.

 

Payday lenders in Kentucky can charge interest rates averaging 469 percent and while installment loans cost less, they have other risky features. The study shows origination fees and expensive credit insurance drives up the cost of installment loans.

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A new study shows Kentucky’s business tax environment had the greatest improvement in the nation. The state ranked 23rd this year in the 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index published by the Tax Foundation, a 16 spot improvement over last year.

Kentucky went to a single rate individual and corporate income tax, eliminating some business tax credits. The state also expanded the sales tax base and began phasing out inventory tax credits, or taxes on inventory held in the state by businesses. Those changes went  into effect on July 1st. The annual State Business Tax Climate Index shows Kentucky adopted a revenue-positive tax reform, meaning the state should collect more from the changes. Senior policy analyst Jared Walczak said the Commonwealth is moving towards a more competitive tax code.

Updated at 2:50 a.m. ET on Wednesday

The Trump administration has published a preliminary list of additional Chinese products that could be targeted with tariffs in the escalating trade war between the world's two biggest economies. The list covers some $200 billion in Chinese exports that could be hit by a 10 percent tariff. It's an extensive list of over 6,000 goods that include seafood, propane and toilet paper, among many other things.

U.S. whiskey distillers are fretting over the steep new tariffs they're facing around the world. They're being punished as U.S. trading partners retaliate against the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum. Now, the distillers fear that a long boom in U.S. whiskey exports could be coming to an end.

Kentucky bourbon has experienced a huge revival over the past decade — thanks in large part to U.S. trade initiatives that have opened up global markets, says Eric Gregory of the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

Kentucky Braces for New Sales Taxes on Sunday, July 1

Jun 27, 2018

Residents of this conservative state will begin paying a slew of new taxes next week because of a convergence of circumstances that could test voter loyalty in November.  Starting Sunday, prices for things like car repairs, tanning bed visits, veterinary care and gym memberships will jump 6 percent because of a new law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.

When President Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports this month, he said protecting the two industries was vital for national security.

"We want to build our ships. We want to build our planes. We want to build our military equipment with steel, with aluminum from our country," he said at a March 8 White House news conference.

In other words, the U.S. military should be as self-sufficient as possible, and not rely on other countries to supply the essential materials it needs for defense.

Erica Peterson

Add another export to the growing list of American products other countries could tax because of tariffs: met coal.

Metallurgical coal — or “met coal” — is low-ash, low-sulfur coal that’s used to produce coke, an essential fuel for steel-making.

Demand for met coal is tied to the demand for steel. It’s also an American export and a symbol President Donald Trump used often on the campaign trail to demonstrate how he would “Make America great again.”

J. Tyler Frankin

Gov. Matt Bevin was non-committal when asked what he thinks of President Donald Trump’s proposal to institute tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum.

The policy could benefit Kentucky aluminum manufacturers like Braidy Industries — the company that Bevin helped attract to the state with a package of economic incentives — and Century Aluminum, which announced it would hire 300 new workers in Hancock County if the tariff went into effect.

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