KY Policy Blog

Report on County Jails Shows Why We Need Additional Criminal Justice Reforms

By Ashley Spalding
May 19, 2017

A recently released report from the state Legislative Research Commission (LRC) raises the alarm around the growing number of state inmates housed in county jails. This trend underscores the need for serious criminal justice reforms in Kentucky beyond the first step reentry measures passed in the 2017 General Assembly.

Kentucky ranked second highest in the nation for the imprisonment of state and federal inmates in local facilities as of 2014, the report shows. Close to half of the state’s inmates are now housed in county jails — 11,000 inmates as 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

Criminal Justice Bills Passed This Session

By Ashley Spalding
March 31, 2017

As the session began, many were hopeful that the legislature was poised to pass criminal justice reforms that would make a meaningful impact in reducing the state’s growing inmate population, associated corrections costs and high rates of recidivism. So where did we end up?

Here are the criminal justice bills that passed:

First steps to improve reeentry. Senate Bill 120 is the bill coming out of the Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council (CJPAC) appointed by the governor. Rather than a broader reform package, the bill takes some first steps toward 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

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

More Federal Budget Cuts Would Especially Harm Kentucky

By Anna Baumann
March 13, 2017

More than one out of every three dollars Kentucky spends each year on health care, education, job training, child care, transportation and other critical programs comes from the federal government. These resources are now at risk of being cut deeply in President Trump’s forthcoming budget proposal this week, the ACA repeal and other looming Congressional attempts to slash programs Americans rely on.

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that 37 percent of total spending by the Commonwealth comes from the federal government, compared to 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

New Tax Breaks Are Not Free

By Jason Bailey
February 21, 2017

This General Assembly, like prior ones, includes a slew of bills that would create new or expand existing tax breaks for a wide variety of people, businesses and activities. While most such bills typically fail to pass, some usually do each session — diminishing the revenue Kentucky has to invest in schools, healthcare, infrastructure and other needs. As of the bill filing deadline last week, legislators had introduced about 40 tax break bills.

Though there are rare exceptions, state tax breaks are often ineffective strategies to achieve particular policy goals. read more