KY Policy Blog

Group Provides Insight Into Growth of Kentucky’s Inmate Population

By Ashley Spalding
October 13, 2017

The Kentucky Justice Reinvestment Work Group, which held its third meeting this week, plans to propose criminal justice reforms in December for consideration during the 2018 General Assembly. The first step in this process involves exploring in-depth the drivers of our state’s high inmate population, with technical assistance from the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) at Community Resources for Justice — an organization that has had success helping Louisiana and Alaska identify meaningful and cost saving reforms.

Our state’s criminal justice system is certainly in need of reform. As noted read more

Lack of Jobs and Wage Growth Still Hurts Kentuckians this Labor Day

By Anna Baumann
September 1, 2017

Labor Day is a good time to reflect on the state of working Kentucky. This year, as the economy continues a long recovery and state and federal decision makers debate policies that could impact progress, it is important to acknowledge we are not yet in a full employment economy that substantially improves Kentuckians’ standard of living.

We have a long way to go to full employment.

The most recent monthly jobs update from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows jobs are continuing to grow steadily in Kentucky as they read more

PFM Report Uses Exaggerated Claims to Justify Harsh, Counterproductive Cuts

By Jason Bailey
August 28, 2017

The final report from the state’s pension consultant PFM uses exaggerated claims about the condition of all of the state’s pension plans to justify harsh and ultimately counterproductive cuts to retirees, current workers and future employees.

PFM bases its recommendations on claims that existing actuarial assumptions must be altered immediately and dramatically for all of the state’s pension plans. Those changes add $1.8 billion to employer contributions in 2019 above what they would otherwise be.  But while the depleted state of the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS) non-hazardous plan merits read more

How Cuts to Federal Non-Defense Discretionary Funding Would Impact Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
August 8, 2017

When Congress returns from its August break, the House is expected to vote on their plan for 2018 appropriations that includes cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, as well as deep cuts to entitlement programs. The proposed cuts to NDD programs would harm our state’s ability to improve education, support children and families, make our communities safer and healthier and develop the workforce and economy.

As noted previously, the proposed House appropriations for NDD programs would be 17 percent below what was appropriated in 2010 after adjusting for inflation and read more

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

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

Kentucky Moms Deserve Better

By Anna Baumann
May 12, 2017

More than 488,000 women in Kentucky are raising an estimated 919,711 children under the age of 18. These biological, step, adopted and foster moms, grandmothers and other relatives and their children would benefit from policies that better support employment, job quality and economic security for Kentucky women.

Supporting Pregnant and New Moms at Work

Pregnancy and childbirth are a normal part of life for women: national data show that more than four out of five become mothers. An estimated 55,759 Kentucky women gave birth over the last year, 63 percent read more

2017 Session a Step Backward for Kentucky Workers

By Anna Baumann
April 19, 2017

The 2017 General Assembly has ended, but the full impact on workers of several harmful bills passed during the session will play out for years to come.

In the very first week of session in January, the legislature passed “Right to Work” (RTW, HB 1), making Kentucky the 28th state with such a law. The evidence does not support backers’ claims that RTW leads to job growth. Instead, what RTW does is lower wages for all workers in states – by an estimated $1,558 a year in 2015 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