KY Policy Blog

Kentucky’s Budget Faces Trouble Without More Federal Aid

By Jason Bailey
April 7, 2020

The severe economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic spells trouble for Kentucky’s budget. The state’s resources were already tight before the virus, but the resulting economic collapse will be a big hit to tax receipts while driving up state costs — threatening our ability to provide vital services, respond adequately to the public health threat and achieve economic recovery once restrictions are eventually lifted.

Two new federal laws begin to address the added strain state governments are facing, but the extent of the downturn will require ongoing and more read more

What’s in the CARES Act for Kentucky

By Jason Bailey
April 3, 2020
Congress has passed and the President has signed a new COVID-19 economic relief bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Security (CARES) Act. Here are some of its major provisions and what they mean for Kentucky. This blog will be updated as more information becomes available.

Expanded and increased unemployment benefits

One of the most significant components of CARES increases unemployment benefits by $600 a week for the next four months, fully paid for by the federal government. Kentucky’s average unemployment benefit is only a modest $380 a week currently. This read more

Despite Some Progress, There Is Still an Urgent Need for Kentucky to Do More to Address the Potential Spread of COVID-19 in Jails and Prisons

By Ashley Spalding and Dustin Pugel
March 31, 2020
Reducing the number of people in jails and prisons is increasingly a focus of state, local and also nationwide efforts to protect public health during the COVID-19 crisis. However, despite some progress, Kentucky still has a long way to go on this front and it’s critical to move quickly given that at least one individual in a Kentucky prison has already tested positive for COVID-19.

Incarcerated individuals are at a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 if the virus enters jails and prisons because incarcerated people are more likely than the read more

Kentucky Response to COVID-19: Help Families With Little-To-No Income Make Ends Meet With Emergency Cash Assistance

By Dustin Pugel
March 30, 2020
Kentucky, like all states, receives a fixed annual grant from the federal government called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) that can be used to support low-income families with children in a number of ways. In the context of the COVID-19 economic and health crisis, Kentucky should maximize the use of TANF funds to bolster financial assistance to Kentucky children and families.

The state should use TANF funds to provide extra aid to very low-income Kentuckians who currently qualify for cash assistance through the Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP), and read more

Kentucky Response to COVID-19: Help Kentucky Families Put Food on the Table

By Jessica Klein
March 27, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic leads to layoffs and school closures, and as more people are staying at home to reduce the risk of infection, having enough food will be an increasing challenge. Public benefit programs providing nutrition assistance will be a key intervention in prioritizing family well-being and economic stimulus.

The federal Families First Act is a good start but action is still needed to expand nutrition benefits for low-income families. And while the state has already enacted a number of measures to minimize barriers to nutrition assistance, more can read more

Kentucky Not Prepared for Next Recession

By Ashley Spalding
March 23, 2020

Amid the spread of COVID-19 and resulting business closures and layoffs, a recession is under way and could be particularly harmful in Kentucky due to the state’s failure to adequately prepare. Kentucky is among the 12 states least prepared for America’s next recession, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Kentuckians with low incomes and people of color are especially at risk of COVID-19, job losses, wage cuts, lapses in health care coverage and other resulting hardships. As a result, state responses – in read more

Policies Addressing Kentucky’s Underlying Health Challenges Could Better Prepare Us for Public Health Crises, Like COVID-19

By Jessica Klein
March 19, 2020

As a result of factors contributing to the state’s poor health, Kentucky is especially vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. A new annual report from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings and Roadmaps provides data about the relatively large share of Kentuckians already in poor health and who are at a higher risk of serious complications from the coronavirus.

When compared to other states, Kentuckians are at a higher risk of COVID-19 becoming a serious illness, over 45% of people older than 60 and read more

SB 1 Would Harm Kentucky Kids, Economy

By Anna Baumann
March 19, 2020

After receiving a second reading on the House floor yesterday, Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) continues to advance in the House, despite the harms to Kentucky kids and our economy and the need to pass a budget with COVID-19 related provisions and adjourn the session.

SB 1 will voluntarily increase Kentucky’s coordination with federal immigration enforcement through both local law enforcement activities and the collection of data by a wide range of public agencies. While research shows that aggressive state and local enforcement policies do not promote public safety, they read more

HB 424’s Reformed Felony Threshold Would Reduce Incarceration for Low-Level Theft

By Ashley Spalding
March 19, 2020

Today the Senate Judiciary committee will hear a House-passed bill that would reduce incarceration – especially important as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to make Kentucky’s current jail overcrowding even more harmful. House Bill 424 (HB 424), sponsored by Representative Massey, would increase the threshold at which stealing something of value becomes a felony from the current level of $500 to $1,000 – a change that could significantly reduce the number of people held in our overcrowded county jails and the corresponding costs to individuals, their families, and our correctional system. read more

Paid Sick Leave Legislation Would Protect Health and Promote Economic Security

By Jessica Klein and Ashley Spalding
March 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is illustrating why Kentuckians must be able to stay home from work when they are sick. When people don’t have access to paid sick leave, the negative economic impacts they face for simply following common sense guidelines like staying home when sick, put us all at risk.

Too few jobs provide paid sick leave, especially impacting women and people of color in low wage jobs

Too few jobs provide paid sick leave, particularly low-wage service jobs at the front line of public interaction such as early care read more