Hundreds of Kentuckian are expected to gather in early December to plan a strategy that will help Appalachian counties move forward. Governor Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers and many other local and state officials made the announcement this morning in Hazard. The December ninth summit is called ‘Shaping Our Appalachian Region.’ Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo believes the event can help generate an agenda.
“But I believe the time is right and I believe that with the support that this group can offer, that we can go to Frankfort, that we can go Washington, that we can go to the business communities and we can have a strategic plan to move us forward,” said Stumbo.
Congressman Hal Rogers says the coal counties have been hit hard with the loss of six thousand miners in less than two years. Stumbo says a modification in coal tax monies would help move the area forward.
“And I think it’s time the state of Kentucky rethink its distribution of the severance tax formula. It’s time that we rethink the commitment that we made to educational progress here in the mountains,” added Stumbo.
On site for the announcement was Senate President Robert Stivers who admits the effort does not guarantee success, but says it is worth a try.
“This group cannot sit here and tell you that we will try and we will succeed. But hear what you can guarantee. If we do not try, we will be doomed to failure in eastern Kentucky," explained Stivers.
Governor Beshear says there’s a need for change and a new way of thinking about issues in Appalachia. He says public, private, and philanthropic partnerships must all be used to make improvements in education, health, work readiness, and infrastructure.