KY Policy Blog

What’s In the Senate Pension Bill

By Jason Bailey
February 21, 2018

The Senate’s pension legislation, introduced as SB 1, includes cutting teachers’ cost of living adjustments, moving new teachers into a less secure hybrid cash balance plan and requiring an expensive method of paying unfunded liabilities known as “level dollar.”

Major components of the bill include the following:

Current employees and teachers lose benefits

The bill includes a number of reductions to benefits for current teachers and employees. For teachers, it cuts in half the annual cost of living adjustment received in retirement for 12 years, reducing it from 1.5 percent  read more

KEES Bill Could Worsen College Affordability for Low-Income Kentuckians

By Ashley Spalding
February 13, 2018

Our state needs to prioritize making college more affordable for low-income Kentuckians and House Bill 247, which would radically alter the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES), falls short of this goal in several ways.

While KEES — which has historically been a merit-based scholarship program — currently serves primarily higher income students, it also helps some low-income students meet the growing costs of college. HB 247 would reduce its ability to do so.

What is KEES?

The KEES scholarship is currently available to students who earn at least a 2.5 read more

Switching to 401ks Is a Lose-Lose

By Jason Bailey
February 12, 2018

It’s a bad idea for Kentucky to shut down its pension plans and move new teachers and public employees into less efficient 401k-type defined contribution (DC) plans. State and local governments would pay more while workers would receive a smaller and less secure benefit. It’s a lose-lose proposition for employees, the quality of public services and the commonwealth as a whole.

DC plans cost more than Kentucky’s existing pension plans

A switch to DC plans will fail to save money because the employer contribution for new workers in Kentucky’s existing read more

Gang Bill Unproven and Costly Approach

By Ashley Spalding
February 6, 2018

House Bill 169 proposes to make charges and related sentences much harsher for some crimes committed by individuals identified as gang members. This is an unproven approach to addressing gang violence. Its expanded definition of gang membership could disproportionately and unfairly harm communities of color, and would be costly at a time when Kentucky is in great need of common sense reforms to safely address the state’s growing inmate population and overwhelmed criminal justice system.

What the Bill Does

Enhances penalties for gang recruitment: There is already a state statute read more

Kentucky Better Budget Builder

By Anna Baumann
February 5, 2018

Kentucky has what it takes to restore essential investments our commonwealth — revenue options to address our eroding General Fund as an alternative to more budget cuts. This interactive tool allows you to try your hand at building a better budget through targeted investments as well as the revenue options to pay for them. By cleaning up tax breaks, we can do more for our kids, neighborhoods and local economies.

For instance, you may want to shrink our structural deficit (and prevent more budget cuts) by making the individual income read more

Bill Would Limit Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Cut Them Off Much Sooner

By Dustin Pugel
February 3, 2018

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a form of income-replacement coverage that keeps workers who lose their jobs out of poverty, boosts the economy in communities that experience downturns and helps to shorten recessions. Yet House Bill 252 would cut workers off UI much sooner, erode the maximum benefit compared to actual Kentucky wages and make fewer Kentucky workers eligible. It would worsen the harm to individuals and communities that fall on hard times.

Bill Cuts Off Benefits Early For All Kentuckians, Especially Harming Communities with Few Jobs and Workers of Color read more

Significant Cuts Proposed for PVA Offices Will Harm Property Tax Revenues Statewide

By Pam Thomas
February 2, 2018

Kentucky’s Property Valuation Administrators (PVAs) told a House Budget Review Subcommittee yesterday that the governor’s budget contains cuts of 23.5 percent to PVAs that would require layoffs of approximately 40 percent of PVA staff statewide (250 of the current 593.5 state funded employees). They also testified that the cuts would severely compromise their ability to do their jobs and generate more property tax revenue for the state and local taxing districts.

Who Are PVAs and What Role Do They Play?

Each county in Kentucky has a publicly elected Property Valuation read more

Four New Ways Kentuckians Will Lose Medicaid

By Dustin Pugel
January 30, 2018

Low-income and disabled Kentuckians are currently eligible for a broad range of health care benefits thanks to Medicaid. As long as people earn below a certain annual wage (a little over $16,700 for adult individuals), or have certain disability-related needs, they qualify. But Kentucky’s recently approved changes to our Medicaid program (known as an 1115 waiver) removes benefits like dental and vision coverage and adds four new ways for people to lose coverage. The documentation attached to the waiver request estimates these new barriers will be the primary reason that read more

Adequate Fund Balances are Crucial for Prudent School District Management and Should Not be Relied Upon to Make Up for State Funding Cuts

By Pam Thomas
January 29, 2018

One of the ways the governor’s budget expects local school districts to make up for significant cuts he has proposed in state support for education, including transportation and teacher health insurance, is through spending down district reserves.  State law requires school districts to budget for a minimum reserve of at least two percent of the total school budget. However, districts that are able to retain balances greater than the statutory minimum because of sound financial practice, including needs for debt service coverage, bond trustee requirements and bonding capacity, credit rating, read more

Governor’s Budget Cuts Per-Student SEEK Funding

By Ashley Spalding
January 23, 2018

The Support for Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) formula is the primary source of funding for the state’s local school districts. Despite the perception that SEEK funding is not cut in the governor’s budget proposal, a detailed look shows this is not the case.

One part of the SEEK formula is base funding, which comes from a combination of resources raised by the local district as well as state funding. This base funding amount is often referred to as the “per-pupil guarantee” and the level is established for each year read more