KY Policy Blog

House Health Repeal Would Shift $16 Billion in Costs to the Kentucky State Budget

By Jason Bailey
March 22, 2017

The House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), would cut federal funding for Medicaid in Kentucky by $16 billion over 10 years, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute. Making up that shortfall would require an increase in state Medicaid spending in Kentucky that would be bigger than all but one other state.

Cuts to Medicaid in the AHCA come in two ways. First, it would require Kentucky to spend approximately three times more than under read more

Trump Budget Eliminations Would Be Major Hit to Kentucky

By Jason Bailey
March 21, 2017

President Trump’s proposed budget would be a major hit to the investments that benefit Kentucky’s communities, as federal dollars play a substantial role in our state’s budget and economy. His budget would completely eliminate programs that provided more than $190 million in federal funding to Kentucky in 2016, according to an analysis from Federal Funds Information for States.

Those eliminations alone amount to nearly nine percent of all discretionary federal funding to the state. On top of those eliminations, the president’s budget would reduce funding for a wide range of read more

Funding and Accountability Concerns Still Apply to Senate Version of Charter Bill

By Ashley Spalding
March 15, 2017

An amended version of House Bill 520 passed the Senate Education committee this morning and is now heading to the Senate floor. The changes made to the bill were relatively minor and the concerns we expressed previously still apply.

The changes made to the version of HB 520 that passed the Senate include clarification around definitions (for instance, which mayors can be authorizers); when a traditional public school can convert to a charter; teacher qualifications; and the lottery process that occurs when more students are interested in attending a charter 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

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

What’s In the Criminal Justice Reform Bill, and What’s Not

By Ashley Spalding
February 15, 2017

Senate Bill 120, the bill coming out of the state’s Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council (CJPAC), proposes some positive steps to address barriers to successful reentry often experienced by former offenders when they are released from jail or prison. Here’s an overview of what is and is not in the bill.

The bill includes:

Second chances for workers with records

SB 120 includes licensing reforms that would increase employment opportunities for workers with records by making it possible for them to receive state occupational licenses in some circumstances. Currently the read more

Harsher Criminal Penalties Not a Proven Way to Address Heroin Problem

By Ashley Spalding
February 15, 2017

We all want to see Kentucky address its devastating drug problems. The issue touches individuals and families from all walks of life across Kentucky, and too many of us have friends, relatives and neighbors who have been hurt in some way by drug addiction.

Senate Bill 14, which passed the Senate yesterday, increases criminal penalties for possession of heroin and fentanyl, drugs that are most frequently involved in overdose deaths, as a solution to these problems . This approach would lock up more Kentuckians struggling with addiction for longer periods read more

No Need to Overinflate Pension Liabilities

By Jason Bailey
February 10, 2017

Lately the governor is saying Kentucky’s unfunded pension liabilities are not the $33 billion reported by the systems’ actuaries, but a much larger $82 billion. That estimate is based on unrealistically low assumptions about the future rate of return on investments.

The size of pension liabilities and amount employers should contribute each year depend on assumptions about future employee growth, retirement, mortality and more. One key assumption is what the average annual rate of return on investments will be. Most pension plans use an assumption of between 7 and 8 read more

Will More Revenue from Tax Reform Be Real and Sustaining?

By Jason Bailey
February 9, 2017

Governor Bevin suggested in his State of the Commonwealth speech that his tax plan will generate more revenue to help Kentucky pay down its large unfunded pension liabilities. Kentucky needs more revenue to honor those debts and make the public investments that build thriving communities. But there are big questions about what he means by more revenue and whether the kind of tax plan he is talking about will do the job.

There are three ways more money could come up in these discussions, only one of which would actually  read more