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If it seems that the news is often filled more with what’s wrong with the world than what’s right, the holidays give us a chance to flip that equation for a time.
Here in Kentucky, it doesn’t take long to find some good news across the state.
Earlier this fall, for example, we learned our citizens are much more willing to give to charitable causes than those living in most other states. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, we rank 15th in this category.
That level of giving extends beyond the pocketbook, based on another study done several years ago. It found that nine out of 10 Kentucky adults say they have at least one other person on whom they could depend outside of family in times of emergency, indicating our willingness to help others in time of need.
In other good news, we recently learned that, even in the face of this past year’s drought, farmers are set to finish the year with more than $5 billion in sales, which is a new record. University of Kentucky economists recently said 2013 could be even better, with the total farm receipts jumping as much as $600 million because of increased global demand and good prices for many of our commodities. That global demand is especially key for Kentucky, because only four states rely more on farm exports.
Another area where more money is going into Kentuckians’ pockets is natural gas. The Kentucky Public Service Commission says prices have dropped 43 percent since 2008, and are the lowest we’ve seen in a decade. It’s a trend expected to continue in the years ahead.
Those who use the homestead exemption for their property taxes will get to keep a little extra as well. This exemption, which is adjusted every two years, is now $2,000 more than when last set. It now stands at $36,000, and it is expected to save $171 million for the 416,000 Kentuckians who qualify because of their age or disability.
For our younger citizens who envision a career in business, last week was a positive one because Governor Beshear kicked off a new program known as the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs.
This program, which will bring 50 students to Georgetown College next summer, is modeled after the successful Kentucky Governor’s Scholars and Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, both of which have given thousands of high school students an opportunity to be with others as gifted as they are. In this case, the new program will target those students who are interested in the creative thinking and innovation that drive our economy. For those wanting to know more, visit http://gse.kstc.com/ Applications are due by mid-February.
For now, I hope you are enjoying the season and are able to spend it with family and friends. In the coming weeks, I will use this space to talk more about the issues expected to come up during the 2013 legislative session, which begins January 8th.
Rick Rand, D-Bedford, represents the 47th House District in the Kentucky General Assembly. He may be reached by writing to Room 366B, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601, or leave a message at (800) 372-7181 – TTY (800) 896-0305.