Beyond roads and broadband, Eastern Ky. needs more focus on coal severance tax spending, Stivers says

12/22/2013 06:14 PM

The legislature’s strategy to helping Eastern Kentucky should include road and broadband expansion, better management of coal severance tax and giving more latitude to phone companies, said Senate President Robert Stivers.

As part of his wide-ranging interview with Pure Politics last week, Stivers — of Manchester — answered questions about his home region of Eastern Kentucky, which is increasingly becoming a focus of the 2014 General Assembly.

Stivers said some of the strategies will include state resources, including help to expand broadband internet access. But he said he also wants to pass a bill to partially deregulate the phone industry to encourage some companies to expand their cell phone service in Eastern Kentucky. Senate Republicans have been pushing for that bill for the last two years.

Stivers, who is entering his first budget session as Senate president, also said he supports the concept of widening the Mountain Parkway to be a four-late highway. Ultimately, he said it would be most ideal if that four late highway could connect I-64 to another major interstate so it could become a major transportation corridor.

“Would I like to see something like that? Yeah. Is it probably going to happen? No,” Stivers said (1:00). “But we can connect and make the routes we have a little bit better (in terms of) access.”

And Stivers said he “could see some changes” in the way coal severance taxes are distributed. Currently, half goes into the state’s general fund. The other half is divided between coal producing counties and what’s called “multi-county” funds. Watch that discussion at 4:45 of the 6:30 interview:

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