KY Policy Blog

Kentucky Falls Short in Closing Higher Education Gaps

By Sean Litteral
October 31, 2012

Kentucky still has a long way to go to meet the ambitious educational attainment goals set by the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997. In a recent report by the Council on Postsecondary Education, which details the state’s progress toward meeting these goals in 2010-2011, Kentucky fell short in several indicators of the gaps between disadvantaged and other students.

The report examines the progress that has been made toward the state’s education goals for 2020 in 31 performance targets in four priority areas: college readiness; student success; research, economic and read more

Arguments to Cut Income Tax Miss Context and Ignore Tax’s Benefits

By Jason Bailey
October 17, 2012

Those arguing for a shift toward sales taxes and away from income taxes in Kentucky overstate the influence of income taxes on where people live. And they overlook the benefits of income taxes, including how they improve tax fairness and drive long-term revenue growth.

One argument, which comes up in the consultants’ report to the governor’s tax reform commission, concerns location decisions along Kentucky’s border regions. Since close to half of the Kentucky population lives close to a state border, there are more opportunities for individuals to choose which state read more

What Would Kentucky Gain from More Business Tax Cuts?

By Jason Bailey
October 10, 2012

For a state like Kentucky—with high levels of poverty, low wages and too few jobs—a perpetual issue is how government can do more to promote prosperity. For years, the state has focused heavily on reducing business taxes and providing special tax incentives with the hope of attracting industry.

In truth, business tax cuts are not a formula for long-term economic development. Yet a focus on that strategy continues in the recently-released consultants’ report to Governor Beshear’s Blue Ribbon Tax Reform Commission.

The report argues that Kentucky needs to improve its read more

The Bigger Picture on Who Pays Taxes

By Jason Bailey
October 8, 2012

The vast majority of Kentuckians (and Americans) who don’t owe federal income taxes are either workers who pay payroll taxes, seniors, people with disabilities or students.

In 2009-2010, 49 percent of Kentuckians owed no federal income taxes. 76 percent were either workers who paid federal payroll taxes (57 percent) or the elderly (19 percent)—many of whom paid federal income taxes before they retired. These groups didn’t owe federal income taxes because their wages were too low; because they qualified for measures like the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps lift read more

Taxing Groceries Not a Good Strategy for Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
October 1, 2012

The recently released consultants’ report to the governor’s tax reform commission included the option of applying Kentucky’s sales tax to food for home consumption (i.e., groceries). While broadening the tax base is an important strategy to raise and sustain revenue, a tax on groceries would make Kentucky’s tax system less equitable. And because groceries are a shrinking portion of what people consume, it could worsen Kentucky’s long-term revenue problems.

Kentucky applied the sales tax to groceries until 1972 when it exempted them for tax fairness reasons. As a share of read more

Transitioning Adults to Postsecondary Education Crucial to Meeting Goals

By Ashley Spalding
September 24, 2012

Postsecondary education is increasingly recognized as an important means of improving the economy and increasing the financial well-being of individuals and families. But given Kentucky’s serious educational challenges, the state must start early in the education pipeline—including with a major focus on efforts that help adults obtain basic education, make the transition to higher education and then acquire a credential or degree.

Efforts to increase the percentage of adult education students who are transitioning to college are especially important given the low levels of education among adults in Kentucky, the read more

Pension Issue is Primarily a Revenue Challenge

By Jason Bailey
September 20, 2012

Over the last several years, much of the focus given to Kentucky’s pension system has been on ways to shift new employees into some version of a 401k-style retirement plan. But as a presentation to the state’s pension task force this week showed, that idea has little to nothing to do with the state’s main challenge on this issue: how to pay back the existing unfunded liability.

Consultants from the Pew and Arnold foundations presented preliminary information to the task force on the impact of various options for dealing with read more

Higher Education Helped in the Recession, but Doesn’t Guarantee a Good Job in Recovery

By Sean Litteral
September 13, 2012

Those with higher education fared better in the recession and are more likely to obtain the new jobs being created in the recovery. However, those new jobs tend to pay lower wages than the jobs that were eliminated during the downturn.

Thus while more education can help shield families from recession, the path to greater family economic security must also include policies that spur the creation of more good quality jobs.

A report released last month by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute highlights how the recession impacted those with different read more

State Cuts to Education Continue to Deepen

By Ashley Spalding
September 5, 2012

Kentucky is one of 35 states in which inflation-adjusted per student state funding for K-12 education is lower this school year than it was in 2008, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The report calculates that Kentucky’s core state funding for local schools has declined by 8.5 percent, or $399 per student, between 2008 and 2013. 26 states—including Kentucky—have deepened the already steep cuts to education over the last year. School funding per student in Kentucky decreased by 1.4 percent between fiscal years read more

Increase in Federal Minimum Wage Would Provide Much-Needed Boost to Kentucky Families

By Jason Bailey
August 14, 2012

An increase in the federal minimum wage to $9.80 an hour would raise wages in Kentucky by $606 million over the next three years and benefit one out of every four of the state’s workers, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Contrary to stereotypes, increasing the minimum wage would primarily benefit adults whose families depend on these jobs to make ends meet.

The report examines the impact of legislation introduced in both houses of Congress to incrementally raise the federal minimum wage from its current read more