KY Policy Blog

Kentucky Public Pensions Are Not Expensive — If You Fund Them

By Jason Bailey
June 21, 2017

A special session this fall will likely include proposals to cut public pension benefits, and new employees are especially vulnerable because their plans can be changed easily under law. However, such cuts do nothing to reduce the existing unfunded pension liability — which is owed to retirees and current employees — and won’t save money over the long-term either. That’s because Kentucky’s pensions are already inexpensive to the state as long as they are properly funded on time.

Actuaries refer to the regular cost of a pension plan as the 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

The Health Care Repeal Bill Would Double What Kentucky Must Pay for Medicaid Expansion

By Dustin Pugel
June 6, 2017

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) ends extra federal funding for states that expanded Medicaid eligibility, meaning Kentucky would have to increase its Medicaid expansion funding 111 percent to make up the difference. This $404.9 million increase in state spending would almost certainly lead to Kentucky ending coverage for the 472,000 Kentuckians insured through the expansion.

How Is Medicaid Paid for In Kentucky?

Medicaid is a shared state-federal program, and federal government pays states differently for their traditional Medicaid population depending on how well-off people are in each state. For 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

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