Op-Ed: General Assembly Risks Driving Corrections Costs Higher

This column originally ran in the Courier-Journal on March 1, 2017. It ran on KyForward.com on March 6, 2017.

Going into this legislative session, the Kentucky General Assembly was poised to make criminal justice reforms that would reduce the state’s growing inmate population and associated costs while also maintaining public safety. However, some of the criminal justice legislation moving through the legislature would take the state in a very different direction by increasing penalties for certain crimes. In addition to further expanding the state’s inmate population and adding strain to the state’s prisons and jails, these approaches do not include proven solutions to address drug addiction and violence.

SB 14, which has already passed the Senate, would lock up more addicts for long periods of time as it increases penalties for heroin and fentanyl trafficking under two grams; while proponents argue that the bill would only affect commercial traffickers, Kentucky’s definition of drug trafficking is so broad that one addict passing any amount of heroin or fentanyl to another would be considered trafficking and, under this bill, carry with it a 5 to 10 year prison sentence. SB 14 would cost between $30 and $35 million and is not backed by research as a proven way to address the drug addiction crisis that wracks our state. HB 333 is a similar bill, although because it only deals with increasing penalties for fentanyl trafficking under two grams the fiscal impact would be smaller, around $4 million.

HB 315, which just passed the House, attempts to address violent crime in the state by dramatically increasing criminal penalties for individuals who commit crimes in some way connected to a gang and makes it easier to prove gang affiliation; the bill also makes penalties for gang recruitment harsher than currently exist. This approach goes against what research says is effective, including the evidence from other states when similar laws were enacted. And it comes with a $38 million price tag.

Meanwhile, the bill coming out of the governor’s Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council (CJPAC) — SB 120, which recently passed the Senate — would provide some good first steps in improving reentry that can pay off in the long run in decreasing recidivism. But the bill would do little to cut corrections costs in the immediate future. The “big ticket” policy changes under consideration by the CJPAC such as reforming the state’s mandatory minimums for repeat offenders or reclassifying some low-level felonies as misdemeanors did not end up in SB 120.

At the same time, the state is already anticipating having to spend $35 million over what was budgeted for corrections in 2017 due to the inmate population being higher than projected. That’s on top of $89.6 million over the past five years in extra money needed due to the state’s inmate population being above projections.

Before bills that add more costs to our corrections budget are signed into law, legislators should consider whether they are the best use of limited state resources. We need solutions to drug addiction that expand treatment and interventions that transform the lives of troubled youth who might otherwise go on to commit violent crimes. SB 120 would be a first step forward in helping with barriers to reentry, but the other bills mentioned above would move the state backward.

Op-Ed: Decisions About Future of Health Law Must Be Based in Facts

Kentucky is in the center of the national spotlight as the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the future of healthcare in America hang in the balance. The state’s extraordinary success in expanding health coverage under the law means Kentucky has much to lose if Congress repeals it or scales it back.

Over the weekend, Governor Bevin spoke out on Obamacare as the states’ governors held a meeting in Washington. In a press conference outside the White House, the governor stated that “the net result” in Kentucky has been “a remarkable decline in access to health care coverage” with “fewer people able actually to even see a doctor.”

These claims are just not true. In addition to dramatically expanding health care coverage, with the share of the population uninsured dropping from over 20 percent to 7.5 percent, the law resulted in many more people getting the care they need.

A careful study by researchers at Harvard’s School of Public Health compared Kentucky and Arkansas, which expanded Medicaid, with Texas, which did not. They found low-income adults in the two expansion states are now more likely to have a personal physician, go to check ups and get regular care for chronic conditions and are less likely to delay getting care due to cost, skip medications or use the emergency room as a usual source of care.

Other data show the startling magnitude of these differences. The number of Kentuckians getting preventive screenings through Medicaid doubled in the first year of the law alone, smoking cessation counseling nearly tripled and the state has had a 740 percent increase in Medicaid expansion-covered treatment for people with drug addictions.

And while care doesn’t always immediately translate to better health, Kentucky is already seeing positive results. The same Harvard study found that adults in the two expansion states were more likely to report they were in “excellent health.” The governor recently tweeted that “the whole point of healthcare coverage is of no value if you don’t create better health outcomes.” Yet there’s solid evidence that thanks to the ACA, we already are.

Despite all of this progress, there’s more work to do to improve our healthcare system. Too many people in the private market still face high healthcare costs, and struggle to afford insurance. But additional changes should build on the impressive gains the ACA made, not tear them down and move us backwards.

The governor’s position on healthcare matters greatly because if Congress and the President are successful in replacing Obamacare with something else, a new plan will likely give more authority to states to design coverage.  The Medicaid waiver the governor proposed last year would introduce barriers to coverage even while creating new, expensive administrative burdens for our healthcare system. If that’s the direction he will take, more state control could mean real reductions in access to care.

Kentucky needs a fact-based discussion of what the law has meant for the Commonwealth as we navigate the big national debate in front of us, and as we head toward major decisions about what we will do in our own state.

Gang Bill Costly and Missing Effective Approaches to Supporting Youth

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 has not been proven effective, is very costly (at an estimated $38 million) and would disproportionately impact poor communities of color. Research shows that interventions to move young people away from criminal activity — such as programs that involve the community working with law enforcement to offer youth gang members alternatives to violence, in addition to programs focused on poverty reduction, education and employment – are more effective than harsh, long term incarceration.

What the Bill Does

  • Enhances penalties for gang recruitment: There is already a state statute that makes gang recruitment a crime, which has been applied to 22 people since it was enacted in 1998. HB 315 would increase the penalties for a person 18 or older committing the crime, and make the penalties especially harsh for a person 18 or older recruiting someone 15 or younger (a Class C felony with a sentence of 5 to 10 years for a first offense).
  • Broadens the definition of a criminal gang and gang membership to apply to more groups and individuals: Currently the state’s legal definition of a criminal gang is an alliance, network or conspiracy of five or more persons involved in a continuing pattern of certain criminal activity. HB 315 would broaden the definition to apply to a group of three or more persons who: share a name or identifying hand signal/sign, colors or symbols or geographical location or leader; has been identified or prosecuted as a gang within the commonwealth or another state or country; and has two or more members who engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal activity.
    • HB 315 would also expand the evidence admissible to prove the existence of or membership in a criminal gang — to include, for instance: identification as a gang member by an informant; identification as a gang member by the alleged gang member’s parent or guardian; self-proclamation of association, whether for business or enjoyment, with criminal gang members; and participation in photos or social media interaction with criminal gang members.
  • Increases time spent in jail by gang members for misdemeanors: Adults convicted of a list of misdemeanor crimes, including criminal mischief and resisting arrest, would be required to be sentenced to nearly the maximum amount of time under the law and would be required to serve all of that time — if they committed the crime while a gang member, or if they were ever a gang member, and they were deemed to be acting in the interest of a criminal gang or a member of a gang. The bill takes away these findings from the jury and places them with the judge alone.
  • Makes charges much harsher and increases time spent in prison for gang members convicted of felonies: Adults convicted of a felony that “could or did place a member of the public at risk of physical injury, serious physical injury, or death” while a gang member and acting in the interest of a criminal gang or an individual member of a gang would receive a much harsher sentence and be required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for parole. Again, these findings would be taken away from a jury and given to the judge to make.
    • For instance, a Class D felony that carries with it a 1 to 5 year sentence and parole eligibility after serving 20 percent of the sentence would instead become a Class C felony that carries with it a 5 to 10 year sentence and have no opportunity for parole until serving 85 percent of the sentence. This provision applies even if an inmate participates in rehabilitative programs that would otherwise reduce his/her sentence, reducing the incentive to do so.
  • The bill also allows the seizing of assets alleged to be associated with crimes/suspected crimes committed by gangs or gang members. Thus, once an individual is brushed with suspected gang association his or her family’s property can be subject to civil forfeiture.

Likely Impact of the Bill

While it is important that actions be taken to address violent crime in our state, increasing penalties is not supported by research as an effective approach. Meanwhile, HB 315 would lock up more people for long periods of time, have a disproportionate impact on poor communities of color, and cost the state over $38 million; this cost estimate is based on information about validated gang members currently incarcerated, but under HB 315 there would likely be more under the expanded definition of criminal gang in the bill and evidence to prove membership. Similar legislation in California overwhelmingly led to the incarceration of individuals belonging to minority racial groups (despite an increasing number of whites participating in gangs), was not effective in combatting gangs or crime, and may have even resulted in increased gang activity by increasing gang solidarity, antagonism to law enforcement and gang involvement as a prison survival strategy, and decreasing legitimate opportunities for gang members to re-enter society once released.

Studies show that intervention to move young people away from criminal activity is more effective than harsh, long-term incarceration. Often those incarcerated for years become more steeped in criminal behavior, not less. Upon release, they have lost family and community ties and their only associates may be others who were convicted of committing crimes.

Public dollars to enforce HB 315 could instead be used to fund intervention efforts and turn these young people’s lives around, while our current gang recruitment statute can be applied when necessary and appropriate.

Charter Bill Would Put Public Schools At Risk Statewide

Worker Protections Undermined by SB 237

A number of harmful bills affecting wages and working conditions have passed this session, making it a year of setbacks for workers already. But SB 237 would make things worse.

It shrinks state workplace protections and the number of workers covered.

Federal labor laws set a bare minimum floor on labor standards, on top of which states customize their own worker protections. For example, 29 states and D.C. have adopted a minimum wage higher than the federal $7.25; and Kentucky’s current 7th day overtime law builds on federal overtime protections. But SB 237 lowers Kentucky to the floor, and eliminates protections the state has put in place in the past.

SB 237 alters who we count as employers and employees in Kentucky, substantially reducing the number of employers who have responsibility for compliance with our labor laws as well as the number of workers who are covered by them.

  • It applies the definition of employer subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) basic wage standards – businesses with net gross revenue under $500,000, which is $405,000 more than KY’s current threshold of $95,000 — to all of Kentucky’s wage and hour laws. That means employees who work for small businesses grossing less than $500,000 would become ineligible for the state’s minimum wage and overtime protections, but also all other wage and hour provisions regarding such issues as withholding from employee checks, rest and lunch periods, last paychecks and vacation and sick leave pay. The state would no longer enforce those protections for workers at businesses below the $500,000 size threshold.
  • It makes those workers not included in the definition of employee in federal minimum wage law exempt from Kentucky’s wage and hour laws as well, leaving these workers (for example, in recreation, fishing, newspapers, criminal investigation and computer programming) unprotected by the state’s additional wage and hour provisions listed above.

SB 237 would also:

  • Make it possible for employers to waive employees’ unpaid lunch period at any time and get rid of ten-minute rest periods.
  • Allow employers to mandate tip pooling, where employees’ tips – rather than pay from the employer – can be used to bring other employees’ pay up to the minimum wage. Tip pools are notoriously subject to abuse, with funds being skimmed off the top or tips going to supplement non-tipped workers’ low wages.
  • Eliminate Kentucky’s law that requires employers to pay time and a half for work on the seventh day of the week.
  • Shorten the statute of limitations for wage and hour violations from five to two years (three years when the action arises out of willful violation).
  • Specifically exempt some workers from the state minimum wage law, including newly hired employees under 20 years of age and seasonal employees.
  • Repeal leave for workers when they adopt a child.

It increases penalties for workers but decreases them for employers.

Currently, when an employer wants to penalize an employee for financial losses associated with breakage, cash shortages, defective workmanship, lost and stolen property, and customers’ default on credit, for example, Kentucky law requires the employer to prove willful and intentional disregard and to get written authorization before those losses can be deducted from the employees’ paycheck. SB 237 would allow employers to simply “attribute” and deduct those losses.

More broadly, under current law, withholdings (besides for taxes, social security and garnishments) must be authorized “in writing.” SB 237 would allow employers to reduce paychecks with just “express or implied agreement,” including for loans employers have made to employees. Both these provisions leave employees vulnerable to employers’ interpretation of situations where they have a financial interest.

While putting employees’ paychecks at risk, the bill shelters employers from the financial consequences of their illegal activity. For illegal deductions from workers’ paychecks, SB 237 would reduce the interest employers pay on penalties from 10 percent to 5 percent. And instead of being fined for each violation (e.g. per day, per employee) of wage and hour provisions, violations would be lumped together and fined as one offense. For example, a violation of 8 employees’ rights that currently constitutes 8 separate offenses and carries a total fee of $8,000 could, under SB 237, constitute 1 offense and carry a $1,000 fee.

Protecting workers and Kentucky requires rejecting SB 237.

A bill that so heavily favors employers over employees further tips the balance against workers and opens the door for abuse. By limiting wages and other protections, SB 237 would widen divides in our communities and weaken our economies as reductions in workers’ wages mean they have less money to spend. The General Assembly should reject it.

Too Many Kentuckians Remain Underemployed

A close look at the employment level of Kentucky’s working age population shows more progress is needed to reach full economic recovery, as we recently noted. Another measure, called the underemployment rate, also shows there remain many Kentuckians who want more work than they are able to find.

Three groups of people make up the underemployment rate. The first is those classified as unemployed, meaning they are without a job but have looked for work in the past four weeks. The second group consists of “marginally attached workers,” meaning individuals who are not in the labor force but report they want to work, are available for employment and have looked for a job within the last year. And a third group is those who are working part-time for economic reasons, meaning they work less than 35 hours a week but report wanting to work full-time and being available for full-time employment.

In 2016, 9.7 percent of Kentucky’s labor force was underemployed, as shown in the graph below. While that number has improved substantially from the depths of the Great Recession, it is still above the 9.3 percent rate of 2007 and significantly above the 6.9 percent rate reached in 2000.

Source: Economic Policy Institute analysis of Current Population Survey data.

A still-high share of part-time workers who would rather be full-time is a piece of the problem. In 2016, 23.1 percent of Kentucky workers were part time, about the same share as the last few decades. But the percentage of part-time workers who report doing so for economic reasons remains elevated at 16.8 percent in 2016, as shown in the graph below (and no, this has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act). In contrast, that share was only 14.7 percent in 2008 and as low as 9.2 percent in 2000.

Source: Economic Policy Institute analysis of Current Population Survey data.

These numbers remain elevated because Kentucky still lacks needed jobs, including full-time opportunities. Our situation begs for more policy efforts that spur additional job growth so we can get back to full employment, along with policies that improve job quality and remove barriers that keep people from obtaining work. We also need to guard against policies that, despite false promises, will make things worse or fail to create jobs. We outlined more about what to do, and what not to do, in our previous blog and here.

 

Virtual Schools Problematic in Charter Bill

An especially problematic part of House Bill 520 is its inclusion of virtual charter schools. There are numerous concerns about the quality of education provided by virtual charters as well as the potentially large diversion of local school district and state money to fund these schools.

Virtual charter schools offer K-12 education exclusively online. Under HB 520, they could enroll students located anywhere in Kentucky and would, like brick and mortar charters, receive state and local funding; it is of note that the companies managing these schools are often located out of state.

The bill does not include any limits on how many virtual schools could open in Kentucky or how many students could enroll. Because virtual charters present no transportation limitations for students like with brick and mortar charters, the enrollment potential is very large and could affect every school district. If virtual charters attract new students who are not now enrolled in public schools (such as private school or home school students), it could mean added costs or further dilution of existing school dollars since HB 520 requires charters be funded on a per student basis.

Concerns about virtual charters have been widely reported and are shared even by some pro-charter organizations. There are many troubling reports of low student achievement (including graduation rates), students being enrolled but not having the necessary computer equipment to participate, students not even using the educational software on which teaching and learning are based, questionable management practices, and the role of aggressive and well-funded lobbying in driving these virtual charters. Research also raises questions about whether, even in the best case scenarios, online charter schools can be effective in promoting student achievement given the limited student-teacher interaction involved.

In addition to concerns about state and local education money being invested in an educational approach with so many problems, in HB 520 local school boards would lose control of funds to virtual charters located anywhere in the state; this includes money raised because communities voted to increase taxes to support their schools. In addition, there is no accountability from the virtual charter to the school boards that raised the money for how these funds are used. Meanwhile, out of state management companies hired by virtual charter schools could make a profit from the scarce education dollars our state and its local communities have generated.

Even though HB 520 sets school boards as the authorizers of charter schools, it also provides an opportunity for applicants to appeal to the state Board of Education if a local district rejects a charter school application. That could be the avenue through which virtual schools proliferate without the support of locally-elected school officials.

Virtual charter schools have a poor track record and could have a large negative impact on the funding of Kentucky’s existing public schools. They should be rejected.

Where’s the Ambition For Education?

Funding Concerns Persist in New Charter Bill

House Bill 520 is a very different charter school proposal than the previously introduced HB 103. While some concerns we previously expressed about charter authorizing authority in HB 103 have been addressed in HB 520, funding concerns remain and new resource concerns have been introduced.

One significant change in HB 520 is that authorizers are limited to local school boards, with final approval by the commissioner of education. The change partially addresses the issue we noted in HB 103, that entities outside the public school realm could authorize charter schools, taking local money from public schools without input or consideration by the local school board.  There are some situations under HB 520 where this could still occur, particularly with virtual schools, and we remain concerned about the potential impact of charters on local school district funding, as discussed in more detail below.

Specific concerns are as follows:

Allocation of Local School Funds to Charter Schools – How Much Will Go?

The method of allocating resources to charter schools in HB 520 is concerning and unclear. The new charter bill requires money to be sent to charter schools from local districts on a “per pupil” basis, which is not the way traditional public schools are funded. School districts provide funds to traditional public schools within the district based on the needs and programs offered in each school rather than a system based strictly on the number of students attending the school. It isn’t clear just how much money a local district will have to transfer to a charter school under HB 520 because the bill provides that “gross state and local revenues” be divided by the number of pupils in the district, and that term is not defined.

We therefore don’t know whether amounts generated by the district for other purposes will be included in the amount that will be transferred to the charter school.  It appears the amount of local revenues flowing from local school districts to charter schools could be greater under HB 520 than they were under HB 103, which specifically described the components of funding that would be transferred on a per student basis.

The funding formula is particularly problematic in relation to virtual charter schools. Student enrollment for a virtual charter could include students from all over the state, which means multiple local districts would be required to send funds to a virtual charter school authorized by one district, with no input on the use of the funds. Further, the entity actually providing the virtual charter school services could be located out of state and would not be accountable to any school district other than the one that authorized the charter.

Reduction in Overall Resources Available to Public School Districts

Our previously expressed concerns remain about the negative impact on funding of existing public schools from the introduction of charter schools. When some students move to charters, traditional public schools cannot simply reduce their costs on a student-by-student basis because fixed overhead costs remain regardless of the number of students in the district. Operating two school systems within one district under separate governance arrangements can create extra costs or inefficient expenditures, and the potential negative consequences of charter schools on funding for Kentucky’s existing public schools would be particularly problematic given our state’s schools — especially the poorer school districts — are already experiencing such financial difficulties.

A related question is whether the funding diverted from traditional public schools to charter schools is adequate for the charter schools to be successful, and to meet the constitutional burden placed on the General Assembly with regard to public education.  By failing to provide resources to address the capital and infrastructure needs of charter schools in HB 520, the General Assembly is intentionally providing fewer resources to charter schools, which may make it more difficult for them to be successful — and lead to an even bigger shift of resources to charters later on.

Transportation Funding and Requirements

HB 520 specifically provides that transportation funding remains with the district in which the student lives, however the bill requires the local district where the charter school is located to provide transportation for charter school students that live within the district.  Since the transportation component of SEEK is woefully underfunded, this mandate imposes an additional burden on local school districts without providing additional resources to meet the mandate. This is especially true if the charter school operates on an alternative schedule — such  as having classes on weekends or in the summer — because the local district would be obligated to run buses just for charter school students in those circumstances, which would clearly be an added expense.  The legislation is silent regarding transportation of students who live outside the district where the charter school is located.

Benefit Appropriations for Charter School Employees

HB 520 requires that appropriations be made for charter school employees’ retirement, health and life insurance benefits to the same degree those contributions are made for public school employees, however the legislation does not provide details regarding how this is to be accomplished. This requirement creates an additional expenditure for the state with regard to new employees hired by charter schools and it is unclear whether these requirements would further reduce resources available for public schools in the commonwealth.

These questions and concerns about the funding of charter schools should be a primary component of discussions about whether charter schools should be authorized in Kentucky.

 

The Math Behind Ed Choice Tax Credit Fails Many Tests

Today in the House Education Committee legislators are hearing discussion of House Bill 162, a proposal to create a so-called Education Choice tax credit in Kentucky. This proposal does not target low- and moderate-income students as suggested; is expensive, taking resources away from public schools and other investments; and provides an excessively large credit under which some high-income individuals could actually make money.

Ed Choice Is Not Designed to Help Low- to Moderate-Income Families

House Bill 162 would create a 90 percent tax credit for individuals, businesses and banks who donate to Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) that give financial assistance to families sending their kids to private schools.

Though proponents suggest it is a way to provide school choice to families who would otherwise not be able to afford it, the proposal does not target low- or even moderate-income families. The eligibility criteria makes scholarships available to families with income significantly higher than what typical Kentucky families make.

  • Income eligibility for the scholarship is up to 200 percent of household income necessary for reduced-price meals. Reduced price meal eligibility is 185 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL) based on family size.
  • For a family of four, multiplying the FPL of $24,600 by 185 percent, and then by 200 percent yields $91,020.
  • That’s $21,684 more than median income ($69,336) for a four-person household in Kentucky in 2015.

Program Would Lead to Less Revenue for Investments in Students

The credit would also have a large, negative fiscal impact on the Budget of the Commonwealth, taking money away from our schools and other budget priorities – why Ed Choice tax credits are also called “back door vouchers”  and “neo-vouchers.” The estimated state revenue loss in the sixth year of the program – the size of all credits awarded that year – is $76.3 million. The high rate of the credit is part of the reason for the cost, in addition to the fact people or businesses can carry it forward for up to 5 years to reduce tax liability.

To put $76.3 million into context, it’s about as much General Fund money ($77.7 million) as is budgeted for Family Resource and Youth Service Centers (FRYSCs) and Extended School Services (for students who need additional instruction) combined in FY 2017.

And though the credit would be successful in putting more money into private schools – by shifting those resources away from public investments – it may not succeed in stimulating new charitable giving to private education. The high rate of the credit – 90 cents back for every dollar donated – means donors can give much smaller actual gifts, with the state more than making up the difference.

  • Without the credit: At an actual cost to the donor of $940 once the 6 percent charitable deduction is factored in, a donor gives $1,000. The $60 difference is a state tax expenditure.
  • With the credit: The same donor pays only $300 for a $3,000 donation once the 90 percent credit is factored in. The $2,700 difference is a state tax expenditure.

Ed Choice Would Allow Some Wealthy Kentuckians to Turn a Profit

The credit is so generous it would actually allow some wealthy taxpayers to make money off their donations by “stacking” state and federal tax breaks. A report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy explains how this would work, indicating that under Kentucky’s proposed tax credit, “donors” could make large profits.

  • A “donor” gives $100,000 which, once the $90,000 state credit is factored in, costs her $10,000. At the federal level – where she owes taxes under the federal Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) at a rate of 28 percent – she deducts the full $100,000 gift, reducing her federal tax liability by $28,000. On net, she receives a total of $118,000 in tax benefits ($90,000 plus $28,000) for an original donation of just $100,000.
  • In the most extreme case of a donor taking the largest state credit available ($1 million) as well as the federal charitable deduction at the top AMT rate (35 percent), she could receive a profit of $277,778.

This generosity is why Ed Choice credits in other states are exhausted as soon as they become available each year. Lawyers and accountants recognize the profit potential, even advertising to clients:

  • “This is a huge opportunity for those of you in the AMT, as a donation to an SGO…will actually go further to put money in your pocket.” – Alabama CPA’s newsletter.
  • “When you donate, you will receive both a Georgia state tax credit AND a federal charitable deduction. You will end with more money than when you started.” – Georgia’s Pay It Forward scholarship website.

Data from the IRS shows that in 2014, 31,710 Kentuckians owed taxes under the federal AMT. 85 percent had incomes over $200,000 per year.

The Ed Choice tax credit is poorly designed, provides subsidies to the wealthiest Kentuckians and shifts much-needed resources away from public schools and other investments.