KY Policy Blog

New State Report Shows Little to No Progress on Achievement Gaps

By Ashley Spalding
September 9, 2016

The Council on Postsecondary Education’s latest accountability report, which was released yesterday, shows Kentucky has continued to make little to no progress on some important higher education measures. While the state has increased the number of degrees and credentials earned each year since the baseline year, achievement gaps remain for low-income, underrepresented minority and academically underprepared students.

Here are some highlights from the report, which focuses on progress made in 2013-2014 toward meeting the goals set out in the state’s 2011-2015 Strategic Agenda for Postsecondary and Adult Education.

Increase in read more

Criminal Justice Reform and Racial Disparities in Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
September 8, 2016

Nationally, the racial disparities that exist in the criminal justice system are well-known, with African Americans being overrepresented in prisons and jails. These racial disparities are also present in Kentucky’s criminal justice system, which is one reason why it is so important the state move forward with needed reforms.

Despite the majority of inmates in Kentucky being white, African Americans are disproportionately represented in the state’s criminal justice system. African Americans are eight percent of the adult population but:

14.4 percent of all arrests; 15.7 percent of all arrests for read more

Modest Savings from Medicaid Waiver Ignore Added Costs and Mostly Don’t Come from Expansion Population

By Dustin Pugel
August 31, 2016

The Bevin administration has submitted the revised version of its request to make changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program and continues to tout the plan’s savings. However, projected state savings are only from covering fewer people, and those savings are small and don’t primarily come from the Medicaid expansion population, which is the portion of Medicaid the administration says we cannot afford. What’s more, savings diminish once the costs of a less-healthy population, the economic losses from fewer federal dollars into the state and higher administrative costs to operate the new read more

Budget’s Reliance on One-Time Funds Presents Challenge Next Time Around

By Jason Bailey
August 30, 2016

The new two-year state budget that began in July relies on a substantial amount of one-time monies to balance its books — more than twice as much as was used in each of the previous two budgets. That presents an extra challenge when the state comes back to develop a new budget in 17 months, as the Kentucky General Assembly must find those dollars again plus other money to deal with rising costs and the state’s many needs.

The gap in General Fund monies between what the new budget spends read more

Five Challenges Kentucky College Students Face in 2016

By Ashley Spalding
August 22, 2016

Kentucky college students face barriers and challenges as they begin a new academic year, some of which are worsening as a result of yet another round of state budget cuts to higher educational institutions.

Tuition Continues to Rise

Tuition at public universities and community colleges has been on the rise in Kentucky for years, largely as a result of state budget cuts. As we’ve described elsewhere, while Kentucky continues to cut funding for higher education most states are increasing funding. The most recent cuts have led to more tuition increases read more

Kentucky’s Revenue Not Keeping Up with Economy

By Micah Johnson
August 16, 2016

As Kentucky’s economy continues to grow, the state’s revenue intake reflects that growth less and less. Just over the last year from fiscal year 2015 to 2016, state personal income (a good measure of economic growth) grew by 4.7 percent in the Commonwealth, but the state’s General Fund grew by only 3.7 percent.

The disparity is reflective of a 25-year trend in which revenue hasn’t been keeping up with the economy. That means instead of being able to reliably maintain our investments in excellent schools, affordable higher education, job training read more

Kentucky’s Schools Face Funding Challenges as Kids Head Back to School

By Ashley Spalding
August 8, 2016

As kids return to school across the Commonwealth, they face continued frozen state funding that amounts to a reduction once inflation is taken into account. The lack of state funding increases for schools threatens educational gains Kentucky has made in the past and is leading to a growing gap between rich and poor schools.

Kentucky’s cuts among the biggest

Last year’s report on K-12 funding by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ranked Kentucky 6th worst in the nation when it comes to cuts in per-student core formula funding read more

Five Takeaways from Kentucky’s Year-End Revenue Results

By Anna Baumann
July 12, 2016

Revenue receipts are in for June 2016, the final month of Kentucky’s last Fiscal Year (FY), showing modestly strong General Fund growth of 3.7 percent since 2015. Here are five big takeaways:

Revenue Growth Itself Isn’t Remarkable as It Almost Always Grows from Year to Year

Kentucky collected $372 million more in FY 2016 than in FY 2015. And while this increase shows Kentucky’s economy is growing – with people earning and spending more, thus paying more income and sales taxes, for example – it is the norm for our read more

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