KY Policy Blog

Rising Kentucky Prison Population Should Make Penal Code Reform a 2017 Priority

By Ashley Spalding
June 21, 2016

The governor’s announcement today about the formation of a Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council to work toward needed reforms is an important step in addressing a serious problem in our state. The latest data from the Department of Corrections (DOC) shows Kentucky’s inmate population has been rising rapidly, far above the state’s projections. Without additional criminal justice reforms, the number of incarcerated Kentuckians will likely continue to increase, costing the state money needed for other vital public investments and harming Kentucky families without improving public safety.

inmate population

Source: Kentucky Department of read more

Understanding Pension Contributions in the Final Budget

By Jason Bailey
May 26, 2016

The issue of pensions for Kentucky public employees and teachers is complex, and the two main pension systems — the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS) and the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS) — are in distinct but related predicaments.

While a number of factors are at play in the conditions facing these funds, the primary reason for the challenges facing them is the failure of the General Assembly in the past to make the actuarially required contribution (ARC). The ARC is the amount of money that should be contributed annually to read more

Governor Vetoes Need-Based Scholarships for Thousands of Students

By Jason Bailey
April 28, 2016

Governor Bevin vetoed $40.3 million in funding for need-based college scholarships contained in House Bill 10, meaning denied aid for nearly 22,000 low-income students that had been awarded by the General Assembly. This is at the same time the budget cuts funding for higher education by 4.5 percent, leading to tuition hikes at the public universities and community colleges.

The governor’s vetoes also delay the start of the Work Ready Scholarship, a program designed to help some traditional-age students pursue associate’s degrees, by one year from 2017 to 2018. That read more

Child Care Assistance and Preschool Improved in Budget Agreement

By Dustin Pugel
April 22, 2016

The two-year budget agreement now being considered by Governor Bevin made incremental but substantial changes to the state’s two main investments in early childhood care and education (ECCE). The state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) was given $21.2 million more across the biennium than in the previous budget, so more families can become eligible for assistance. State funded preschool was held harmless, but its income eligibility limit was also increased.

While the state only uses General Fund money for public preschool, CCAP spending comes from the General Fund, tobacco settlement read more

New Early Childhood Education Report Highlights Benefits of Investment

By Dustin Pugel
April 19, 2016

Too little funding for early childhood care and education (ECCE) in Kentucky means that quality care is too expensive for low-income families, and remains unaffordable for most Kentuckians.

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute lays out a broad argument for why bold investment in ECCE is needed. In short, children who have high quality early childhood experiences benefit immediately and well into adulthood, families with access to affordable care are able to invest in their income-earning potential and pursue careers, and states can more generally invest in a read more

General Assembly’s Budget Includes Critical Scholarship Investments

By Dustin Pugel
April 19, 2016

The final budget agreement that passed the legislature includes significant new investment in the state’s college scholarship programs. Over the biennium, the funding increase for Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) is $121.5 million over what was budgeted for the prior two-year period. This new money for scholarships is important for helping Kentuckians better afford college — particularly the state’s low-income students — and the governor should affirm these investments as he makes final decisions about the budget.

These improvements in financial aid funding are especially critical given the budget’s read more

What Are Taxes For?

By Anna Baumann
April 18, 2016

Since completing forms and mailing off checks may not inspire reflection on the bigger purpose of taxes, here’s a Tax Day reminder of what we are chipping in for:

Through our local, state and federal governments, our tax dollars are pooled together and invested in schools and universities, roads and bridges, social services for vulnerable children and adults and other public services essential for shared prosperity and thriving communities in the Commonwealth.

In other words, taxes are a critical tool for doing important things together we cannot do alone. Here read more

What the Cuts Would Mean: A Look at How Kentucky Is Hurt By Proposed Disinvestments

By Anna Baumann
March 25, 2016

In a new video describing the importance of Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSCs) and Extended School Services (ESS) – programs the Senate budget cuts – Jackie Butts, a 6th Grade Language Arts teacher at Tichenor Middle School in northern Kentucky, says “when we talk about money, a lot of times people forget … there are students behind that money.”

As legislators head into final negotiations on the state budget, it’s a good time to remember that all services on the chopping block have people and purpose behind them. read more

Questions and Concerns About the Senate’s Performance-Based Funding Proposal

By Ashley Spalding
March 25, 2016

The model for performance-based funding outlined in the Senate budget proposal raises some questions and concerns about how the money would be distributed and what the likely outcomes would be for students and the state’s public higher education institutions.

In the proposal, 25 percent of 2018 funding for the state’s universities and community colleges (other than Kentucky State University, which is exempt) is contingent upon each institution’s performance on certain metrics. The main metrics for measuring institutional performance in the Senate’s funding model are: degrees and credentials awarded; student retention read more

Uninsured Costs at U of L Hospital Have Dropped Dramatically Because of Medicaid Expansion and Kynect, But Could Go Up with Changes

By Jason Bailey
March 22, 2016

Senate leaders have raised a concern about the House’s inclusion of up to $10.5 million in their budget over the biennium to help cover health care costs for the uninsured at University of Louisville Hospital. They argue that if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was working so well, that appropriation wouldn’t be needed.

But a look at the data shows costs for the uninsured at the hospital have dropped dramatically since Kentucky created Kynect and expanded Medicaid, saving tens of millions of dollars for the state, the city of Louisville read more