PSC should reform telecom access regulations
As leader of an enterprise that's focused on advancing science, technology and innovative economic development across Kentucky, I am always interested in finding ways to grow entrepreneurial companies and attract technology investment dollars. We turn over every rock in search of these opportunities and recently discovered a somewhat obscure regulation that could be holding us back.
Kentucky's telecommunications industry is still being forced to operate under a form of access rate regulation that began in 1984. The basic explanation is that some companies have to pay large subsidies when consumers make in-state, long-distance phone calls from their homes.
Other states have already done away with this rule and made themselves more attractive for entrepreneurial growth and investment dollars.
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The telecommunications industry requires a lot of capital to build the advanced networks we all need to succeed. That access to capital is clearly more challenging than it used to be. So, companies are always reviewing which states and, in some cases, countries have created the most attractive atmospheres for them to invest.
The states that get it right often see dollars flowing their way. Those that don't risk falling behind.
Technological innovation has emerged as an essential building block in the creation of new economic opportunities and enhanced competitiveness for Kentucky.
Consequently, the time to act is now. Kentucky's next big innovations will require a range of advanced technologies and we hope that other leaders in business, government and education will join us in calling for the Kentucky Public Service Commission to reform our state's access rate rules.
Kris W. KimelPresidentKentucky Science & Technology CorporationLexington
Police, fire deserve raises
I don't have family in the Lexington police or fire departments, but I am a taxpayer and, unlike a July 4 letter writer, I think these workers should get pay raises. They risk their lives every day. I am grateful to a lot of city workers, but that doesn't mean they need raises.
How much would you take to get shot at or punched or burned? You know the money they make would never be enough. I think they do a fine job, even when I get a ticket for doing wrong.
To another letter writer who said she lost respect for a police officer who went through the lights: Maybe he had a call. Please stop thinking bad about them. They have a hard job and we don't need to make it harder. So, next time you need help, who are you going to call?
Southland's true value
I am neither a member of Southland Christian Church nor the Lexington community, but felt compelled to respond to a letter last Sunday regarding Southland purchasing the Lexington Mall.
I would challenge the writer to research the impact Southland has on the citizens of Lexington. I cannot imagine the tax revenue that could be generated by this property could compare to the money and man hours Southland pours into Fayette County that go directly to helping those in need in the community.
I believe that, every week, nearly $10,000 is collected and is most often used to assist local citizens. Free medical clinics are offered. They have a garden to feed the poor. The list goes on.
I would venture to say the presence of Southland Christian Church in the old Lexington Mall will do far more good for the citizens of Lexington than the potential tax dollars that could be generated by this property.
I am quite certain the letter writer would be welcomed with open arms if he visited the church. He would see for himself how a church living out what it is called to do can impact a community far more than tax dollars.
Clearly, the incomparable success of John Calipari in recruiting large, fast and strong young men to come to the University of Kentucky from all known corners of the Earth creates a problem of overabundance.
The only remedy for exiling to bench status many who could be regulars at other colleges (not to mention shutting out homegrown Kentucky talent) is for UK to establish two or three or more basketball teams, all representing the university but playing independent of each other.
Calipari would assume the role of coach-in-chief with subordinates as bench coaches of these teams. He would continue as master recruiter for all teams.
Such multiplicity of representation would not be unprecedented. Consider that NASCAR owners have multiple cars entered in the same race; that Chicago and New York have two major league baseball teams and Los Angeles has two in the NBA; that an owner can have two or more horses in the Kentucky Derby.
But, wait, there's a bonus: UK fans (that's all of us) can go crazy four or five nights a week; the Herald-Leader could hire more sports staff and publish several sports sections every day; sports merchandisers could quadruple their business.
Is there no limit to our good fortune?
Incentives kept jobs here
We would like to offer clarification to the July 2 article in the Business section, "Martek OK'd for loan as it plans layoff."
Just over a year and a half ago, our community was engaged with Martek Biosciences about possibly expanding in Winchester.
The economy then soured and other economic facts brought us to the reality that Martek's operations in Winchester would instead be impacted negatively.
Working together with Martek and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, we began exploring creative alternatives to keep as many jobs in our community as possible. The end result is yet to be determined, but the reality is that we are faced with losing 45 valuable jobs while maintaining 49 equally valuable jobs.
We applaud the cabinet's efforts in encouraging Martek to maintain research and development operations here. We also thank the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority board for its support in recognizing the need to work with existing companies in good times and bad to ensure they have a presence here long into the future.
We will continue to work with Martek and all other employers to keep jobs from leaving our community. We are saddened to lose even one job and feel for all the employees whose lives are impacted.
However, without these incentives and the collaborative attitude between the state, community and Martek, the reality might have been the loss of far more valuable American jobs.
Edallen York BurtnerMayor, Winchester
Bad bet on Beshear
When Gov. Steve Beshear proposed the idea of state employee furloughs to the General Assembly, he claimed it would be a last-resort measure, that he didn't foresee the need for furloughs but wanted that authority to have flexibility in dealing with the state's budget.
Beshear's recent announcement of six furlough days shows that it was his intent all along to order them.
Since before he took office, he has poor-mouthed the state's financial condition and attempted to get the legislature to approve casino gambling. No raises, rising health insurance costs and now furloughs — what's next? The sad part is, state employees overwhelmingly supported Beshear in 2007 because of the incorrect perception that Gov. Ernie Fletcher had mistreated them.
This perception was fueled by then-Attorney General Greg Stumbo's politically motivated prosecution and was aided by the media's one-sided coverage.
Are those state employees happy with how things turned out for them as a result of Beshear's victory? You can't blame me; I voted for Fletcher.
No doubt, state employees could have provided plenty of ideas for money-saving measures that would result in no impact to their paychecks. In fact, I'd be glad to offer my suggestions if there were any ears in Frankfort willing to listen.
But my recommendations would require some hard choices that might offend some special interests, so in the end, it's easier for the politicians to bite another chunk out of our hides and wallets.
Next year's gubernatorial election can't come soon enough.
Shed the double-dippers
Well, I see our governor is going to take a hit again on the little person making around $8 to $14 an hour when we have all those double-dippers. I hope our governor lets all the double-dippers go before he hits the little guy. Double-dippers don't pay into the retirement system, and a good way to show that he cares about state workers is to let all of them hit the road.
No economic benefit
I am but a mere bone doctor trained in economics at an Ivy League institution. Realizing that such meager education leaves me sorely confused by your Mark Phillip's July 5 column on the "benefits" of a gasoline excise tax, may I ask again how it is that an excise tax will achieve these wondrous acts?
I am especially confounded by his conclusion: "The imposition of a sizable excise tax will help close the gap between what we currently pay for oil and its true value."
Phillips, of course, is the trained economist. At what point in the last 30 years did any tax improve the relationship between "price" and "value"? I have spent all of my adult years thinking that taxes only distracted from that relationship. It was the humble opinion at our beloved college that price in a free market would in fact reflect value. A tax would raise the amount paid and thus curb demand by a degree. But the value is still the value, as negotiated in a free market.
Phillips also argues that raising the price by way of such tax will decline consumption necessarily, but please explain how this will not cause serious economic opportunity costs to the common citizen? Oops, there I go assuming that opportunity costs are still in vogue as a rudimentary explanation of economic activity.
Asked in another way: So we all drive less and still are trying to accomplish the same things in a our busy lives, won't it take more time or inconvenience? It seems to me that under Phillips; excise tax, we would be paying either at the pump in cash or out in the wide world with our time.
Excuse me again, but are time and money no longer related phenomena? Which citizen wants to pay more for anything?
Andrew W. Ryan, MD
Perhaps Mark Phillips, an economist at Midway College, can explain to readers how a $1 per gallon excise tax on gas will benefit American families.
Will the benefit come from increased prices on everything transported to our stores?
Will they benefit by paying more for the gas they use to drive to their jobs?
Will business owners benefit when people have less money to spend with them; further intensifying unemployment?
Will they benefit from that inflation being placed on top of the inevitable inflation that will already result from the massive influx of currency into our markets over the past two years?
In some sort of twisted logic, Phillips then proposes a tax credit to offset the cost of the new tax.
Will some people ever learn that government intrusion and manipulation of markets causes more problems than solutions?