KY Policy Blog

Kentucky Should Not Follow Kansas Down the Income Tax Cutting Road

By Anna Baumann
November 28, 2016

Four years after Kansas began its “real live experiment” cutting taxes for wealthy and powerful interests, the damaging consequences – including a deeply underfunded education system, college tuition hikes, crumbling roads and bridges and three credit rating downgrades – provide a timely warning for Kentucky: this is not a path we should go down.

And yet the hints our leaders have provided about the kind of tax changes they might push for, as well as outside influence from defenders of trickle-down economics, raise concerns there could be attempts to follow read more

Kentucky’s Repeat Offender Laws Need Reform

By Ashley Spalding
November 11, 2016

Last week Kentucky’s Public Advocate Ed Monahan testified to the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary that the state needs to reform its Persistent Felony Offender (PFO) laws. This is also an issue under consideration by the state’s Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council. So what is PFO and what changes are needed?

Overview of PFO

Kentucky’s PFO law provides prosecutors with the option of enhancing a felony offender’s sentence if he/she has previously been convicted of any felony crime (if the sentence has been completed within the past five years, the read more

Social Security Keeps Kentuckians Out of Poverty and Boosts Local Economies

By Dustin Pugel
November 7, 2016

Social Security helps nearly a million Kentuckians make ends meet, cuts senior poverty dramatically and supports local economies by ensuring more people have money in their pockets to spend, as outlined in a a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The report shows a total of 936,497 Kentuckians received Social Security benefits last year, 263,000 of whom would have otherwise been in poverty. Social Security doesn’t just benefit seniors, but children dependents as well; in Kentucky 63,882 children benefited from Social Security.

Age 65 and Older read more

Key Mechanism for Growing Middle Class in Kentucky Is Still Broken

By Anna Baumann
November 2, 2016

Wages for Kentucky workers finally grew last year, suggesting both a tightening labor market and pointing to strong recent growth in manufacturing and health care jobs, among other industries. But one year of good news doesn’t change the fact that the gains from economic growth are not being shared equitably with Kentucky workers.

Four decades’ worth of data show a long-term trend in which Kentucky workers’ paychecks are lagging behind growth in productivity, or the value of our economy’s output per hour of work. Between 1979 and 2015, typical Kentucky read more

Kentucky’s Performance Funding Design Should Work to Prevent Unintended Consequences Reported in Neighboring States

By Ashley Spalding
October 27, 2016

A new book by leading education policy researchers highlights some of the unintended consequences resulting from performance funding for higher education in three of Kentucky’s neighboring states — Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee. As we’ve discussed previously, while at its best performance funding would promote successful outcomes for all students, in practice the models may result in low-income, low-skilled adults being left behind.

These lessons need to play a more prominent role in the development of a performance funding model for Kentucky’s public postsecondary institutions, as the state’s appointed work group read more

Closing Tax Breaks at the Top Will Generate Needed Revenue, Not Cause Millionaire Tax Flight

By Micah Johnson
October 27, 2016

A study recently published in the American Sociological Review validates efforts to strengthen investments in education, health and other key areas by cleaning up tax breaks for those at the top. The finding – that millionaires are unlikely to respond to tax increases by moving – is important for Kentucky, where our upside-down tax code (it asks the least of those with the most) has led to deeply underfunded investments.

Millionaires Are Less Likely to Move

The Stanford University authors of “Millionaire Migration and Taxation of the Elite: Evidence from read more

New Urgency for State Minimum Wage Action

By Dustin Pugel
October 20, 2016

The decision by the Supreme Court of Kentucky invalidating local minimum wage increases means 76,000 working Kentuckians in our two biggest cities now must look to the General Assembly for action. An estimated 45,000 workers in Louisville and 31,300 workers in Lexington will no longer receive the much-needed raises made possible by local minimum wage ordinances. All this makes action even more urgent on the part of the General Assembly to raise the minimum wage state-wide while allowing localities the freedom to go beyond the level the state sets.

Across read more

Dealing with the Risks of Public-Private Partnerships

By Gayle Bartilow
October 20, 2016

While cleaning up tax breaks is the best way Kentucky can generate more revenue for needed investments in infrastructure, last year the legislature streamlined the process of contracting with private entities for funding. HB 309, passed in the 2016 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, gives state and local governments greater flexibility in securing public-private partnerships (P3s) which enlist private investors for the financing, construction, operation, and/or maintenance of infrastructure projects such as highways, bridges, parks and sidewalks.

While the notion of well-financed investors may make P3s sound enticing, there read more

SNAP Works for Kentucky’s Children

By Dustin Pugel
October 13, 2016

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps Kentucky families put food on the table. But we now know that it accomplishes much more than that.

Research increasingly shows that SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, can ward against the long-term effects on children of experiencing poverty, abuse or neglect, parental substance abuse or mental illness, and exposure to violence — events that can take a toll on their well-being as adults.  As a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report finds, SNAP helps form a strong foundation of health read more

Comments to Washington on Proposed Medicaid Changes were 9 to 1 Against

By Dustin Pugel
October 12, 2016

The period to give input to the Cabinet for Health and Human Services (HHS) on Governor Bevin’s proposed changes to Medicaid ended last Saturday with a total of 1,749 responses. The responses were overwhelmingly in opposition to the changes the governor proposed and in support of the program as it currently exists, as shown in the graph below:

waiver-comments-pie-chart

Source: KCEP Analysis 1 of Comments made to HHS on Kentucky’s 1115 Waiver Request (https://public.medicaid.gov/connect.ti/public.comments/questionnaireResults?qid=1888067)

After removing identical responses submitted from the same commenter, responses that weren’t related to the waiver request read more