KY Policy Blog

Kentucky Program Led the Way in Helping Low-Income Adults Get Higher Education, but Barriers Growing

By Jason Bailey
June 26, 2013

Kentucky adopted innovative policies beginning in the late 1990s to help low-income adults attend community college while receiving the supports they need to succeed in school. But shrinking public dollars and increasingly strict federal rules are making it harder to scale those innovations up.

Helping More Kentuckians Get the Skills They Need

Congress passed welfare reform in 1996, which eliminated Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)—a program that provided cash assistance to low-income families—and replaced it with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF is a block grant program read more

Budget Cuts Stack Up: Kentucky Faces the Eighth Largest Decrease in Federal Grants Among States

By Anna Baumann
June 19, 2013

Kentucky will receive $162 million less in federal grant funding in 2013 than it did in 2012, according to a new brief by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The report looks at the state-level impact of recent federal budget decisions and shows a 1.7 percent funding decrease in Kentucky, the eighth largest cut among the states.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) cut more than $1 trillion from the federal budget by capping discretionary spending between 2012 and 2021. An additional $1.2 trillion in cuts ($85.4 billion in 2013) read more

Kentuckians Face Challenges in Accessing the GED in 2014

By Ashley Spalding
June 18, 2013

Kentucky adults without a high school diploma will find it more difficult to earn a GED (General Education Development test credential) beginning in January 2014. Due to upcoming changes in the GED, the test will be more expensive and may be harder to access, among other challenges.

These changes are occurring because of the need to update test content and as a result of the merging of the American Council on Education (ACE), the not-for-profit organization that developed and has administered the test for 70 years, partnering with the for-profit read more

Kentucky’s 2013 Revenue Growth Lower than Many Other States

By Jason Bailey
June 17, 2013

While current trends suggest that Kentucky’s General Fund revenue may exceed the official forecast for the year ending June 30, the state’s revenue growth is less than what other states are experiencing.

A new report by Elizabeth McNichol of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that tax revenue grew 5.7 percent through April in the median state for which data are available compared to 1.9 percent in Kentucky. By the end of May, Kentucky’s growth was still just at 2.2 percent.

Collectively, the personal income tax grew much read more

Underfunding Also Led to Shortfall in Local Government Pensions

By Jason Bailey
June 14, 2013

The pension system for Kentucky local government employees has a shortfall even though local governments have been required to make their annual payments each year. Some are using this fact to suggest that defined benefit pensions themselves must be unsustainable and shift the focus away from inadequate government contributions. But this claim misses several important points.

First, the funding condition of the local government pension system is far better than the state employees’ system, for which the legislature hasn’t made full payments for the last 11 years. The main County read more

A Tax Shift Is Not Tax Reform

By Jason Bailey
June 7, 2013

A key question in Frankfort is whether state leaders will enact tax reform between now and the end of the 2014 legislative session.

But a challenge is the question posed by Senate budget chair Bob Leeper in a recent Louisville Courier-Journal article: “What do you mean by tax reform?”

Indeed. Tax reform is not an absolute good. Whether it helps or harms Kentucky depends on the purpose of the reform and the specifics of the proposal.

The recommendations of the governor’s tax reform commission, on which I served, were the read more

Proposed Cuts to Medicare and Social Security Would Drive More Seniors into Financial Hardship

By Anna Baumann
June 5, 2013

Nearly half of elderly Kentuckians are economically insecure—meaning they either live in or are at risk of falling into poverty—according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Yet instead of safeguarding programs that help seniors meet their basic needs, proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security threaten to push even more seniors into economic vulnerability.

To measure elder vulnerability, EPI uses 200 percent of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). The SPM improves on the flawed Federal Poverty Line by accounting for out-of-pocket health care read more

Need for Health Care Workers Is an Economic Opportunity

By Jason Bailey
June 3, 2013

Because the expansion of Medicaid and creation of a state health insurance exchange will provide health coverage to several hundred thousand people, Kentucky will have workforce needs associated with meeting the new demand for care. While that’s a short-term challenge, it’s also an opportunity to create more of the good jobs that Kentuckians need.

The Medicaid expansion is expected to make coverage available to up to 308,000 Kentuckians, while the exchange will offer insurance to another estimated 332,000. The Medicaid expansion alone will bring over $1.2 billion a year in read more

Implementing Health Reform Will Promote Entrepreneurship in Kentucky

By Jason Bailey
May 30, 2013

Another reason that Medicaid expansion and the rest of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is good for Kentucky’s economy is that it will help support the entrepreneurs and small businesses that are critical to innovation and growth.

The Medicaid expansion is expected to make coverage available to up to 308,000 Kentuckians, while the ACA’s health insurance exchange could cover another 332,000. That access to health insurance will help address the problem known as “job lock.” That’s when people are reluctant to change jobs because they will lose their health coverage read more

Pathway to Citizenship for Immigrants Would Be Good for Kentucky’s Economy

By Anna Baumann
May 29, 2013

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would increase border security, regulate future immigration flows, and formally extend the American dream to the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without legal status, about 80,000 of whom live in Kentucky.

Immigrants who do not have legal status make up roughly 1.8 percent of Kentucky’s population, and because they are more likely than native born Kentuckians to be working age adults, about 2.6 percent of our labor force. Conferring legal status and a pathway to read more