KY Policy Blog

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

Questions and Answers on Performance Funding for Higher Education

By Ashley Spalding
February 20, 2017

The theory behind performance based funding for higher education in Kentucky is that tying some funding for the state’s public universities and community colleges to outcomes could incentivize the institutions to graduate more students. While it is a relatively simple concept, the details of the performance funding bill Senate Bill 153 are more complicated. Here are some of the key questions and answers on the topic.

Where does the funding come from?

While performance funding is often tied to new money, in this case it is not. In 2018, the read more

How Would the Performance Funding Proposal Impact Low-Income, Minority and Academically Underprepared Students?

By Ashley Spalding
February 20, 2017

We have previously written about how while a performance model could potentially promote success for all Kentucky students, depending on how it is designed, it could instead result in unintended consequences that have a negative impact on low-income, minority, adult and academically underprepared students. The specific funding model proposed in Senate Bill 153 could do more to prevent these unintended outcomes.

Heavily Weighting Metrics for Low-income and Minority Students

A concern is  public universities may be incentivized to restrict admissions to only the most academically prepared students in order to read more

No Need to Overinflate Pension Liabilities

By Jason Bailey
February 10, 2017

Lately the governor is saying Kentucky’s unfunded pension liabilities are not the $33 billion reported by the systems’ actuaries, but a much larger $82 billion. That estimate is based on unrealistically low assumptions about the future rate of return on investments.

The size of pension liabilities and amount employers should contribute each year depend on assumptions about future employee growth, retirement, mortality and more. One key assumption is what the average annual rate of return on investments will be. Most pension plans use an assumption of between 7 and 8 read more