KY Policy Blog

Big Funding Concerns with Amended Charter Bill

By Ashley Spalding
March 3, 2017

The amended version of House Bill 520 — the charter school legislation that passed the House today — rightly prohibits virtual charter schools, but other changes made to the bill raise new issues and concerns. There are big problems and unanswered questions with how the funding for charter schools will work, and funds for existing public schools — which are already stretched thin — continue to be in jeopardy.

Here are some of the changes made in HB 520’s committee substitute:

Changes that addressed concerns expressed about earlier drafts: Virtual read more

Tax Credit Doesn’t Help Kentucky Schools and Kids

By Anna Baumann
March 3, 2017

A recent op-ed from the sponsors of private school tax credit proposals in this year’s General Assembly suggests the program would help provide educational opportunities to families in need and save the state and local schools money. But “Ed Choice” tax credits are simply back-door private school vouchers aimed at shifting resources. They reduce the dollars available for public education, limiting schools’ ability to help low-income children succeed.

The Legislative Research Commission is the source of the $76 million price tag on the bills in the program’s sixth year. In read more

Undocumented Immigrants Contribute $37 Million Toward Investments in Kentucky Each Year

By Anna Baumann
March 2, 2017

Undocumented immigrants living in Kentucky pay $36.6 million in state and local taxes each year, according to a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. These substantial tax contributions should be acknowledged as lawmakers consider the economic and social impact of immigration policy and enforcement in the U.S. – including a recent executive order that expands the groups of immigrants prioritized for removal and a surge in deportations that involved 53 arrests in Kentucky, many of the detainees lacking criminal records and others with only minor offenses. read more

Layers of Concern in Funding for Charter Schools

By Pam Thomas
March 1, 2017

There are many reasons to be concerned about funding for charter schools as proposed in HB 520. Local public school districts could lose control of a number of different resources and funding streams in the required transfer of monies to charter schools, adding stress to their budgets and including the loss of monies that may have nothing to do with the services charter schools offer.

Traditional public schools lose authority to direct resources under HB 520

On the surface, HB 520 seems to safeguard traditional public schools from large financial read more

Gang Bill Costly and Missing Effective Approaches to Supporting Youth

By Ashley Spalding
February 27, 2017

Too many in our state have experienced the devastating consequences of violent, sometimes gang-related crime, and our legislators understandably want to do something to stop it. House Bill 315 proposes to address these problems by enhancing penalties for gang recruitment — particularly for recruiting juveniles — and by dramatically increasing penalties for people identified as being gang members who commit certain crimes, while also broadening the definition of “criminal gang” and making it easier to prove gang membership.

While concerns are certainly warranted, such an approach to deterring gang activity read more

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