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Kentucky editorial roundup

May 8, 2019

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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May 6

The State Journal on the Kentucky Derby decision:

The most exciting two minutes in sports stretched into the longest 22-minute wait for the official results after a historic objection was raised against apparent winner Maximum Security for veering into other horses’ lanes in the final turn before the homestretch of the 145th Run for the Roses.

In an unprecedented move, after watching repeated loops of the replays of the in-race foul, stewards, who supervise the outcome of horse races, disqualified Maximum Security and deemed the runner-up, Country House — a 65-1 longshot — the official winner.

Fans will likely debate the stewards’ decision for years to come, and while the outcome was anything but routine, it did teach us a few things that apply to both horseracing and life.

Don’t get distracted by fans. Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez said the horse “ducked out a little” from the crowd noise as the colts made the turn for home.

Don’t take your eye off the goal. By drifting into the “lanes” of the other horses, Maximum Security took himself out of the race.

Stay in your lane. While the interference call wasn’t obvious to the casual observer in real time, many horseracing experts were quick to point out the foul.

Speak up. When you witness something that isn’t fair, say something. The jockeys aboard Country House and Long Range Toddy lodged objections against Maximum Security.

The right decision isn’t always the most popular one. Faced with a difficult call, the stewards took their time (more than 20 minutes) and made the correct one in a high-stakes race in front of millions watching around the globe.

The best horse doesn’t always finish first. Following the stewards’ ruling, many folks bellyached that the fastest horse didn’t finish first. In the official results it didn’t, but, then again, the official results are all that matter.

It was a finish that was anything but conventional, but we believe the stewards got it right. A foul is a foul and a horse is a horse. Of course, of course.

Online: www.state-journal.com

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May 1

The Daily News on the addition of jobs at GM plant:

For decades, we have been very lucky to have the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant.

Not only is it the only place that produces the Corvette, it provides jobs for many people, most of whom raise their families and educate their children here. The plant has also helped our local economy grow tremendously since coming here in the early 1980s.

The Corvette plant currently employs 900 people who put their blood, sweat and tears into making a quality product in the Corvette. We are very proud of the hard work they put into building these cars, and many of us are proud to call the workers there our neighbors and our friends.

GM is a booming company - so booming, in fact, that it was announced Thursday that 400 full-time jobs will be added to the second shift at the plant to help build the new mid-engine Corvette, which will officially be revealed July 18.

The new jobs will push the plant’s total employment beyond 1,300, which Plant Manager Kai Spande said would be the highest employment level ever for the facility that opened in 1981. GM CEO Mary Barra, who was present for the announcement, indicated a number of the new employees will be transferred from GM plants that have experienced layoffs or shutdowns. The new jobs are expected to be high-paying, which is great news for the new employees based on the current UAW contract that expires in September.

The 2015 contract included bonuses and other perks for veteran auto workers, who make $28 to $38 per hour, and took steps to end GM’s two-tier system that pays new workers at a much lower rate. New workers can make up to $29 an hour in eight years or less.

This is very good pay for those who are and will be working at the assembly plant and it’s really exciting news not only for the Corvette plant, but for our town. Four hundred new jobs mean more people will come to Bowling Green to set up roots, rent or buy houses, put their kids in our school systems, bring money into our local economy and be a part of all of the exciting things happening in our city.

We should all be happy about this big news. This is a really big deal for the plant and our city and is an indication of GM’s long-term commitment to building vehicles in Bowling Green.

Online: www.bgdailynews.com

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April 26

The Richmond Register on pensions:

Kentucky’s regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies were set to get temporary relief from skyrocketing pension costs under House Bill 358 after the House and Senate passed the bill on the final day of the session.

However, Governor Matt Bevin vetoed the bill saying parts “violate both the moral and legal obligation to retirees.” Bevin said he intends to call lawmakers back to the state Capitol before July 1 to pass another version.

Now, agencies such as the Madison County Health Department and Eastern Kentucky University are in limbo as they work to create budgets for the coming fiscal year.

In listening to lawmakers, it’s up to the governor to fix this problem following his veto. Every lawmaker we spoke with said before Gov. Bevin calls the special session, there needs to be an agreement in place.

“With the possibility of a special session and the veto already in place, the ball is the governor’s court on how he plans to fix this issue,” State Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, told The Register.

State Rep. Deanna Frazier, R-Richmond, said she “would like to see the governor work with us to craft a solution that ensures the balance between employers and employees. Most importantly, it is critical that an agreement is reached before calling a special session so a solution is in place.”

State Rep. R. Travis Brenda, R-Cartersville, said the increase in contribution rate could bankrupt more than 40 health departments across the state next year and an additional 20 or more the following year.

For the quasi-government agencies and universities, HB358 would have helped them control costs by freezing the KERS employer contribution rates one more year. Now, the rate is set to increase to 84 percent on July 1.

At the current 49 percent employer contribution rate, the KERS requires a $13.2 million contribution from Eastern Kentucky University. With the increase on July 1, that contribution soars to $22.8 million.

“Given our current budget constraints and funding forecast, this amount is unsustainable,” said David McFaddin, senior VP for operations and strategic initiatives for EKU.

The pension contribution increase for the Madison County Health Department would equal more than $1.3 million and about 12 percent of its annual budget.

If there’s no fix, the pension costs could cripple many of the quasi-government agencies and universities. It wouldn’t be shocking to see services or programs cut along with layoffs.

For these agencies and the many Kentuckians who depend on them for services and employment, it’s crucial the governor and lawmakers can find a fix. Otherwise, there will be bigger problems than just underfunded pensions.

Online: www.richmondregister.com