KY Policy Blog

New Study Provides More Evidence Harsher Penalties Are Not Solution to State’s Drug Problems

By Ashley Spalding
July 11, 2017

At the same time our state is increasing criminal penalties for heroin, a new analysis further bolsters existing research showing such an approach is not an effective way to address Kentucky’s drug problems.

House Bill 333, which the Kentucky legislature passed earlier this year, increases penalties for low-level heroin and fentanyl trafficking — rolling back the drug sentencing reforms in 2011’s House Bill 463. The new law makes trafficking in heroin in less than 2 grams a Class C felony, with a 5 to 10 year sentence and no eligibility read more

Senate Health Care Repeal Bill a Drastic Step Backward for Kentucky’s Health

By Dustin Pugel
June 23, 2017

The Senate released the discussion draft of their bill yesterday to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If passed, the Senate proposal would be a terrible setback for the 1.4 million Kentuckians covered by Medicaid as well as all Kentuckians who benefit from the patient protections and assistance buying coverage contained in the ACA.

Nationally, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that it would end coverage for 22 million Americans and drive up health care costs for nearly everyone else.

Effectively Ends Medicaid Expansion

Over 473,000 low-income Kentuckians have gained read more

Kentucky’s State Budget Unable to Compensate for Massive Cuts in Trump Budget

By Ashley Spalding
June 15, 2017

President Trump’s budget proposal dramatically shifts costs to states they will be unable to afford, as shown in reports released this week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. At the national level the cuts mean states and localities would immediately need to come up with the equivalent of more than five percent of state General Fund budgets to maintain the programs the federal government is shedding. Because the proposed cuts grow over time, what states need to assume responsibility for will grow to the equivalent of 37 percent read more

Troubling Hints About Direction for Tax Reform

By Anna Baumann
June 8, 2017

We don’t know yet the specifics of a tax reform plan the governor wants the General Assembly to consider in a 2017 special session. But this week, in a letter sent to legislators indicating the session will be held sometime after Aug. 15, the governor said Kentucky can become “more competitive with surrounding states like Indiana and Tennessee by lowering or eliminating certain taxes.” Given the makeup of those two states’ tax systems, this language suggests a potentially harmful direction that involves lowering taxes for the wealthy and corporations and read more

Kansas’ Experiment Yields Valuable Lessons for Kentucky

By admin
June 7, 2017

By Heidi Holliday

You’re welcome, America. Our state, Kansas, just wrapped up a 5-year long experiment in governance from which the other 49 states can now glean some important lessons. The Kansas Legislature has voted to roll back much of the 2012 package of tax cuts that sent the state into a downward spiral of financial instability and weakened the Kansas’ public schools, universities, Medicaid program and virtually everything else that the state funds.

With the state facing yet another budget shortfall of $900 million, government leaders decided that enough read more

Pension Benefits Inject $3.4 Billion into the Economies of Kentucky Counties

By Jason Bailey
June 6, 2017

As the governor and General Assembly consider additional cuts to pension benefits for employees, it’s important to understand the role such benefits play in local economies. In 2016, public retirees of the Kentucky Employees’ Retirement System, State Police Retirement System, County Employees Retirement System and Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System received pensions totaling $3.4 billion.  That’s the economic equivalent of an entire industry — for comparison, the accommodations and food services industry in Kentucky generated $4.5 billion in earnings in 2015 while the construction industry generated $7 billion, according to the read more

Angel Investor Tax Credit Program is an Overly-Generous Subsidy for Wealthy Investors

By Pam Thomas
May 23, 2017

Kentucky’s angel investor tax credit program is touted as a way to encourage investment in start-up companies. But because it is overly generous to investors, fails to target start-ups exclusively and lacks adequate evaluation mechanisms, there are reasons to question its cost-effectiveness.

Angel investor tax credit programs are offered in more than 20 states. They are promoted as a way to encourage investors to support start-up and early stage ventures for which it is sometimes difficult to access the capital needed to begin or expand operations — especially in risky read more

Any Way You Slice It, A Shift To Consumption Taxes Will Hurt Kentucky

By Anna Baumann
May 19, 2017

There are two main reasons why shifting from income taxes to sales taxes would be bad for Kentucky:

Doing so would make our tax system more regressive than it already is (asking lower- and middle-income families to pay an even larger share of their income in taxes to pay for tax cuts for higher-income families;) and The shift would further reduce revenue growth that is needed to meet our obligations and invest in our schools, infrastructure and other building blocks of thriving communities.

These consequences of upside-down tax shifting are read more

What Are Taxes For?

By Anna Baumann
April 18, 2017

Across the commonwealth, Kentuckians are filing their taxes this week; and many are wondering if and how the Governor’s intention to do tax reform this year will impact what they pay in the future. The principles of good tax reform are clear (that it generates new revenue to invest in our communities in a fair and reliable way). Tax Day is a good time to remember what our contributions pay for, and why we should make sure that everyone is chipping in.

Through local, state and federal governments, tax dollars read more

New Version of Drug Bill Would Have Serious Consequences for Addicts and Criminal Justice System

By Ashley Spalding
March 30, 2017

A new version of House Bill 333 passed the Senate Judiciary committee late last night. The bill contains very consequential changes for Kentuckians struggling with addiction, as well as the state’s criminal justice system.

An earlier version of HB 333 increased penalties for fentanyl trafficking in very small amounts — any amount under two grams. However, these penalties would not apply if a person could prove that he/she had a substance abuse problem at the time of the offense. This provision was important because the state’s definition of trafficking is read more