KY Policy Blog

Worker Protections Undermined by SB 237

By Anna Baumann
February 25, 2017

A number of harmful bills affecting wages and working conditions have passed this session, making it a year of setbacks for workers already. But SB 237 would make things worse.

It shrinks state workplace protections and the number of workers covered.

Federal labor laws set a bare minimum floor on labor standards, on top of which states customize their own worker protections. For example, 29 states and D.C. have adopted a minimum wage higher than the federal $7.25; and Kentucky’s current 7th day overtime law builds on federal overtime protections. read more

Too Many Kentuckians Remain Underemployed

By Jason Bailey
February 24, 2017

A close look at the employment level of Kentucky’s working age population shows more progress is needed to reach full economic recovery, as we recently noted. Another measure, called the underemployment rate, also shows there remain many Kentuckians who want more work than they are able to find.

Three groups of people make up the underemployment rate. The first is those classified as unemployed, meaning they are without a job but have looked for work in the past four weeks. The second group consists of “marginally attached workers,” meaning individuals read more

Virtual Schools Problematic in Charter Bill

By Ashley Spalding
February 23, 2017

An especially problematic part of House Bill 520 is its inclusion of virtual charter schools. There are numerous concerns about the quality of education provided by virtual charters as well as the potentially large diversion of local school district and state money to fund these schools.

Virtual charter schools offer K-12 education exclusively online. Under HB 520, they could enroll students located anywhere in Kentucky and would, like brick and mortar charters, receive state and local funding; it is of note that the companies managing these schools are often located read more

Funding Concerns Persist in New Charter Bill

By Pam Thomas
February 22, 2017

House Bill 520 is a very different charter school proposal than the previously introduced HB 103. While some concerns we previously expressed about charter authorizing authority in HB 103 have been addressed in HB 520, funding concerns remain and new resource concerns have been introduced.

One significant change in HB 520 is that authorizers are limited to local school boards, with final approval by the commissioner of education. The change partially addresses the issue we noted in HB 103, that entities outside the public school realm could authorize charter schools, read more

The Math Behind Ed Choice Tax Credit Fails Many Tests

By Anna Baumann
February 21, 2017

Today in the House Education Committee legislators are hearing discussion of House Bill 162, a proposal to create a so-called Education Choice tax credit in Kentucky. This proposal does not target low- and moderate-income students as suggested; is expensive, taking resources away from public schools and other investments; and provides an excessively large credit under which some high-income individuals could actually make money.

Ed Choice Is Not Designed to Help Low- to Moderate-Income Families

House Bill 162 would create a 90 percent tax credit for individuals, businesses and banks who read more

New Tax Breaks Are Not Free

By Jason Bailey
February 21, 2017

This General Assembly, like prior ones, includes a slew of bills that would create new or expand existing tax breaks for a wide variety of people, businesses and activities. While most such bills typically fail to pass, some usually do each session — diminishing the revenue Kentucky has to invest in schools, healthcare, infrastructure and other needs. As of the bill filing deadline last week, legislators had introduced about 40 tax break bills.

Though there are rare exceptions, state tax breaks are often ineffective strategies to achieve particular policy goals. read more

Questions and Answers on Performance Funding for Higher Education

By Ashley Spalding
February 20, 2017

The theory behind performance based funding for higher education in Kentucky is that tying some funding for the state’s public universities and community colleges to outcomes could incentivize the institutions to graduate more students. While it is a relatively simple concept, the details of the performance funding bill Senate Bill 153 are more complicated. Here are some of the key questions and answers on the topic.

Where does the funding come from?

While performance funding is often tied to new money, in this case it is not. In 2018, the read more

How Would the Performance Funding Proposal Impact Low-Income, Minority and Academically Underprepared Students?

By Ashley Spalding
February 20, 2017

We have previously written about how while a performance model could potentially promote success for all Kentucky students, depending on how it is designed, it could instead result in unintended consequences that have a negative impact on low-income, minority, adult and academically underprepared students. The specific funding model proposed in Senate Bill 153 could do more to prevent these unintended outcomes.

Heavily Weighting Metrics for Low-income and Minority Students

A concern is  public universities may be incentivized to restrict admissions to only the most academically prepared students in order to read more

Kentucky’s Experience with High Risk Pool Shows Dangers of ACA Repeal

By Dustin Pugel
February 17, 2017

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means going back in time to before the law existed or to some as yet undefined “replacement” plan. Some in favor of repeal suggest a new plan should contain what are called high risk pools, including in the recent “Obamacare Repeal and Replace” policy brief circulated by Republican lawmakers in Washington. But evidence from Kentucky’s former high risk pool called Kentucky Access shows how such ideas fall short of the protections and coverage in the ACA.

What is a High Risk Pool?

Kentucky read more

Many Kentuckians Work in Bad Jobs

By Jason Bailey
February 17, 2017

Anecdotal claims are often made that many good jobs are available across the state but Kentucky lacks a workforce skilled and responsible enough to fill those jobs. But the fact is our economy is comprised of many jobs that offer low wages and have few skill requirements — jobs that Kentuckians are working every day.

The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet released its updated occupational outlook report for the years 2014 to 2024 last summer, and recently created a new interactive tool to share related data. Rather than lots of read more