A new Tennessee Valley Authority quarterly report shows their pension fund shortfall is affecting ratepayers. TVA officials say one of the main reasons for the 2 percent increase was the $300 million the agency put into its pension fund. TVA has added nearly 1.3 billion from customers to the fund since 2008. But, the utility didn’t add to the fund or increase rates this year. John Thomas with TVA says he expects market gains to make up for the shortfall in 10 to 15 years. He says TVA will continue to take care of its employees and retirees. Less than 20 years ago, the fund had a surplus.
A Calloway County Circuit Court judge has denied a motion to dismiss a tampering with evidence case against Jerry Wayne Walker, Junior. Judge Dennis Foust said in an order issued today that the case does not violate Walker’s rights. Walker faces tampering charges for allegedly writing letters that interfered in the commonwealth attorney’s investigation into a 1998 dorm fire at Murray State’s Hester Hall.
A southern Illinois judge has again barred Governor Pat Quinn from going forward with his plan to close two prisons. Circuit Judge Charles Cavaness cited safety concerns when he issued the injunction yesterday in Alexander County. It replaces a temporary restraining order he issued last month and requires the prisons to remain open while the administration and a union go through arbitration.
Kentucky’s General Fund receipts increased by more than 5 percent in September, thanks in part to a big increase in corporate income tax revenue. Those receipts increased by more than 26 percent. Lottery and individual income tax receipts also rose by more than 8 percent. State Budget Director Mary Lassiter says those increases helped offset losses in property, cigarette, and coal severance tax revenues. She says the coal revenue fell about 19 percent due to a downturn in the state’s mining industry.
A Democratic lawmaker who played a role in the formation of the embattled Tennessee Department of Children's Services says the agency's commissioner shouldn't be blamed for deeply rooted problems she inherited. The agency has released information showing that 31 children it had investigated died during the first half of 2012. Critics want to replace DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day, who Governor Bill Haslam appointed just last year. However, Representative John Deberry of Memphis, who has been a DCS critic over the years, says the problem isn’t O’Day. It’s many of the workers she oversees.
A Tennessee worker who supervises the state’s regulation of oil and gas production says opponents of hydraulic fracturing are, in his words, “stupid.” Michael Burton’s comment was found in handwritten notes on emails sent to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The emails solicited public comment on new regulations for hydraulic fracturing. The process, also known as fracking, extracts natural gas from rock by injecting high pressure mixtures of sand, water or gravel and chemicals.
Tennessee tax collections show marginal growth in the budget year’s second month. Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes says September revenues continue to reflect the sluggish national economy. Overall revenues totaled just over $1 billion, more than 5 percent above the budgeted estimate. September collections reflect economic activity in the previous month. Sales tax collections came to $2.2 billion less than estimates for the same month, and combined franchise and excise taxes were almost $55 million above projections. Gasoline and motor fuel collections were $3 million below estimates.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is sending a message to drivers that texting and driving is not acceptable. Beshear will meet with AT&T Kentucky, state police and an automobile wreck survivor today at the Capitol to sign the “Don’t Text and Drive Day” proclamation. The group will also announce a campaign encouraging Kentuckians to make a pledge that they won’t text while driving. The state passed a law against texting and driving two years ago.
Paducah City Commissioners adopted a new hazard mitigation plan Tuesday in order to receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Commissioners and Mayor Pro Tem Gayle Kaler approved a municipal order for parts of the Purchase Region Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan applying to McCracken County. Jurisdictions covered by the plan must adopt it in order to receive FEMA funding. The plan identifies potential hazards for our region such as tornados, severe thunderstorms, flooding and winter weather.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission will hold a series of public meetings across the 270 area code to discuss creating a new one for all or part of western Kentucky. The commission has scheduled six meetings throughout October. Area code 270 is expected to run out of available numbers by the beginning of 2014. The PSC is considering an overlay of a second area code as well as a split assigning the area code 364 to part of the 270 territory. Meetings will be held in Hopkinsville on Oct. 17, Paducah on Oct. 18, Henderson on Oct. 22, Owensboro on Oct. 24, Bowling Green on Oct.