Economic Justice News

Ky. Voices: Tax reform essential to Kentucky's future

May 4, 2013
Lexington Herald-Leader

The $1.6 billion in state budget cuts have made college less affordable, kept new textbooks out of schools and reduced access to services for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Appalachia's Bright Future opening session sets tone of challenge and hopefulness

April 20, 2013 at 12:13am

Appalachia’s Bright Future conference got off to a hopeful and challenging start Friday night as participants explored lessons learned from efforts by communities in Wales to “regenerate” after a dramatic loss of coal mining jobs.

Though coal mining is still a part of Wales’ economy, much changed when tens of thousands of jobs were lost over a span of a few years in the 1980s, said Hywel and Mair Francis.

Recovery did not come quickly or easily – and is still very much in process – they explained. But it is happening because people in the region took the initiative, relied on the assets they had in local communities and found partners outside their valleys to support new projects.

Russell Oliver & Hywel Francis“We always felt our dreams should become a reality,” said Mair Francis, a founder of Dove Workshop, a community development program in Wales. But, she added, “it was something we had to fight for ourselves.”

She described Dove as a “a bottoms-up organization – we respond to the needs of the community.” Success has come because what they’re “doing relates to what the people want in the community – good child care, good transport, good jobs.” She also noted that "what made the local struggles so different was the role of women. They did not simply support; they led."

A variety of projects have helped diversify local economies, explained Hywel, ranging from mountain biking trails to a wind farm to reclamation of toxic slag piles left by the mining and other projects to draw wealth to their region.

The history of Welsh coal mining communities is well-documented by Appalachian scholars Dr. Helen Lewis and Pat Beaver and filmmaker Tom Hansell, who also were on the opening night panel. In 1975, Lewis and others started visiting Wales. And in 1979, with Beaver's involvement, they began an exchange of Welsh and Appalachian coal miners.

Lewis said she was drawn by a similar history of industrialization based on the extraction of minerals, and experience of colonialism. She wondered, concerning both Wales and Appalachia, “How could an area that created the greatest wealth be the poorest part of the state?”

The panel’s presentation After Coal: Wales and Appalachian Mining Communities helped participants be challenged by the question, as stated by Hansell: “How do you create an economy that works for the majority of people” where there will no longer be a single major employer, a single major driver of the economy?

's Bright Future 922In her opening comments, conference co-emcee Elizabeth Sanders of Letcher County gave some guidance and set the tone for the rest of the weekend. “We know we have to work together to build it. And we all have something to bring to the table,” she said. “We come up with what’s going to work by bringing these ideas together … and creating a shared vision. That’s why I’m excited about this weekend.”

Appalachia's Bright Future continues on Saturday and Sunday at the Harlan Center.

Jefferson County Chapter discusses fair housing

April 16, 2013 at 04:57pm
Jefferson County

The Fair Housing Act was enacted 45 years ago on April 11, 1968, and April is Fair Housing Month. So this month's Jefferson County chapter meeting was a great time to continue the conversation on fair housing in Louisville that we started during our March meeting.

We began by brainstorming ways our chapter could be involved in addressing local housing issues. Some of the ideas shared included:

Register and attend the "Get on the Bus" tour of Louisville's housing segregation history on April 23rd Make housing issues a key focus of our chapter's economic justice committee Include fair housing fliers when tabling at events Respond to the Mayor Fischer's plan for vacant housing  Attend Metro Councile meetings in support of the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund  Interview people affected by housing issues and make a video to raise awareness Contact groups like Local Options for Kentucky Liens (LOKL) and Network Center for Community Change (NC3) to find out if they are doing any door-to-door work around housing issues that we can assist with Re-establishing Louisville's Tenant's Association

(We would love to add to this list – email your ideas to Alicia,

We also discussed the prevalence of the “not in my neighborhood” attitude in Louisville, historic buildings being torn down in the Portland neighborhood, and apartment buildings for low-income residents on Cherokee Parkway being torn down and replaced by high-rent condominiums.

KFTC thanks Gov. Beshear, mayors for their bold action on House Bill 279

March 27, 2013 at 02:05pm

KFTC has sent a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear thanking him for his "wise decision" to veto House Bill 279.

Uphold the Veto of HB 279!

March 24, 2013 at 03:12pm

Responding to overwhelming public opposition, on Friday Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed House Bill 279.

The bill drew opposition from the state’s own Human Rights Commission, mayors of Covington, Louisville and Lexington, dozens of organizations including KFTC, and some religious leaders and faith communities.

Today's the day to contact your federal rep about the Ryan budget!

March 21, 2013 at 05:39am

The U.S. House is expected to vote on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal today. Here are some resources for understanding the impact of Ryan's budget, along with numbers you can use to call in while there's still time!

Jefferson County Chapter meeting reportback

March 14, 2013 at 04:21pm
Jefferson County

 This Monday marked the Jefferson County chapter’s first meeting to include the new facilitation style agreed upon by our (also new) Chapter Development Work Team. We’re off to a great start! We began by introducing ourselves, laying out ground rules – such as “step forward, step back” – reading our mission statement, and reviewing our agenda.

What happened to Ky. tax reform?

March 10, 2013
Lexington Herald-Leader

But not since his State of the Commonwealth speech have we heard Gov. Beshear talk up the advantages of adjusting the outdated tax code to a modern economy. If he's serious about tax reform, he should start soon; it's his best and probably last shot at going down as more than a caretaker governor.

AT&T bill getting a hearing Thursday. Call today!

March 5, 2013 at 03:11pm

SB 88, known as the AT&T bill, is slated for a hearing in the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee this Thursday at 10:00.

CKY members discuss the impacts of budget cuts on kids, and learn how to negotiate with people in power

February 25, 2013 at 07:30pm
Central Kentucky

DSCN0232Central Kentucky chapter members had a packed agenda for their February monthly meeting. Before the official meeting started, community member Will Bunge led a discussion about the ways that budget cuts were affecting Kentucky's kids, especially kids in foster care. As a former foster child himself, Will talked about the importance of supporting efforts that would make the foster care system more just, that supported folks receiving kinship care and about the possibility of alternative foster communities. He and his partner Susan are interested in starting a not-for profit alternative foster care community in Frankfort. If you're interested in learning more about their project, you can get in touch with them at (502) 523-1674 or

During the chapter meeting, CKY Organizer Beth Howard led a great training on how to negotiate with "power people." She explained the different ways that people in authority might try to get out of making commitments in meetings or change the topic of conversation. She taught chapter members valuable skills on how to recognize these tactics.