Saturday, February 24, 2007

Right Sentiment, Wrong Support

This editorial is correct. Supporting Ford is imperative. However, Governor Fletcher’s Fordfare is unnecessary. Simply cease taxing unprofitable businesses.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

State support for Ford Motor Co. and its Louisville operations continues to move through the General Assembly, with only the occasional whine from a rural legislator who thinks House Bill 536 is just more evidence that the "big city gets everything it wants."

It doesn't. In fact, Jefferson County sends a lot more money to Frankfort than it gets back. And that's as it should be. One of the reasons to have a state government is to help move resources from areas that produce a lot to those that need a lot. This is part of the social and political compact that holds Kentucky together.

On the other hand, when the state's largest city and biggest revenue creator has a real need -- full funding for an urban research university that's crucial to Louisville's economic future; a state school funding formula that doesn't hugely penalize Jefferson County Public Schools; a fair deal on road money; an occasional signature project like the downtown arena -- then state government would be both wise and fair to do something about it. One major need right now is to assure Ford that we're willing to invest in a future for that company, here in Louisville.

Since the first local assembly plant was established in 1913, Ford's presence has survived endless change in the auto industry, and within the company itself: the transition from Model T to Model A, the conversion of assembly lines to wartime use in 1918-19 and 1942-45, successive moves to bigger plant locations, addition of truck assembly, changeover from LTDs to Rangers and Bronco IIs and Explorers.

Ford's presence in Louisville has survived disasters and disappointments, both natural and corporate, like the 1937 flood and the Edsel. It will survive the STAR air toxics reduction program that is necessary to protect local citizens' health.. The point is to preserve Ford's presence, and the enormous employment and tax base it creates. That's what HB 536 is all about. Under its provisions, Kentucky's taxpayers could pick up 75 percent of the tab if Ford spends at least $200 million to improve its Louisville facilities. Those tax-credit incentives could be offered to any existing employer in the state, but the immediate goal is to make sure nearly 8,000 Ford jobs at the two Jefferson County plants stay put.

Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, recently told The Associated Press, "It concerns me that too many people downplay the importance of the homegrown auto industry."

Not here they don't.

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