KY Policy Blog

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

Clawback of Cost of Living Adjustments Would Be Major Hit to Retiree Checks

By Jason Bailey
August 30, 2017

The Bevin administration’s consultant recommends a massive cut to many retirees’ incomes by rolling back past cost of living adjustments (COLAs) — a proposal that could reduce pension checks by as much as 32 percent.

The plan in PFM’s report would claw back COLAs earned between 1996 and 2012 for those receiving pensions in all of the plans, including state and local workers, teachers and police.  For Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS) retirees, that means their checks could be as much as 32 percent smaller for those who retired before 1996 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

Trump Budget Makes It Harder for Low-Income Kentuckians to Climb Economic Ladder

By Ashley Spalding
June 2, 2017

In President Trump’s budget proposal, cuts to critical programs that help low-income Kentuckians are primarily justified as a way to move more people into the workforce. However, the budget proposal would actually makes it more difficult for low-income Kentuckians to be successful in the labor market — and would hurt many who are already working.

As noted in a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a plan that would actually lead to increased employment and earnings for jobless or under-employed workers with low skills would read more

Food Assistance Cuts in Trump Budget Would Have a Devastating Impact on Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
May 24, 2017

The deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) in President Trump’s budget proposal would be devastating to Kentucky — particularly in rural parts of the state. SNAP provides critical assistance to prevent low-income Kentuckians from going hungry, lifts many out of poverty and leads to better outcomes for children in struggling households. The proposed cuts to SNAP are made by shifting 25 percent of the cost to states, putting pressure on them to reduce benefits and make cuts to the program that include imposing a read more

SNAP Works and Shows Where Economic Progress Still Needed

By Jason Bailey
March 24, 2017

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, played a key role in helping cushion Kentucky’s economy from the depths of the Great Recession. It continues to be a critical lifeline and economic stimulus for people and parts of the state facing ongoing economic challenges.

SNAP is designed to automatically help boost the economy when it falters. More people become eligible for the program when jobs are lost and incomes decline. That feature both supports families during hard times and counteracts the economic drag of lower spending. read more

Worker Protections Undermined by SB 237

By Anna Baumann
February 25, 2017

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. read more

Targeted Refugee Groups Make Important Contributions to Kentucky’s Communities and Economy

By Anna Baumann
January 31, 2017

Two recent reports from the Center for American Progress (CAP) explore the contributions immigrants and refugees make in our communities and local economies – including Syrians and Somalians, two groups targeted by President Trump’s executive order – and find high levels of economic participation.

Many Syrian Immigrants Are Building Lives in Kentucky

According to CAP, among states Kentucky resettled the 16th most Syrian refugees between January 2014 and December 2016 (Kentucky has the 26th largest population of all states). Since the crisis began in 2011, Kentucky has resettled 450 Syrian read more

Mix of Criminal Justice Bills So Far in 2017 General Assembly

By Ashley Spalding
January 18, 2017

With Kentucky’s growing inmate population and high rates of recidivism, what we need in 2017 is legislation that will make these problems better, not worse. The criminal justice bills filed so far this session are a mix of both. While several bills could lead to fewer people being incarcerated or create more ways for Kentuckians with records to get a second chance, other bills would put more people in prison, particularly those struggling with addiction.

Here are some of the bills that could help to provide a second chance to read more

Job Growth Claims from Right to Work Not Backed by Evidence

By Anna Baumann
December 27, 2016

Proponents of Right-to-Work (RTW) argue that Kentucky would attract more jobs if such a law was in place, especially in manufacturing. But the evidence does not show our RTW neighbors have grown jobs more successfully than Kentucky in recent years, and academic research on the subject also doesn’t find a link between RTW and job growth.

Looking at statewide manufacturing job growth in Kentucky and our RTW neighbors, all are still below December 2007 employment levels before the Great Recession hit, but Kentucky is the closest to regaining the jobs read more