KY Policy Blog

Spring Job Growth in Kentucky Slows, Big Gap Remains

By Jason Bailey
May 18, 2012

After stronger job increases over the winter, Kentucky’s employment growth slowed in the most recent two months with the state adding only 1,400 net jobs in March and 1,900 net jobs in April. That growth is far below what Kentucky needs to recover the huge job losses that happened during the recession and catch up with growth in the working age population. To close that deficit in three years, Kentucky needs to add an average of 4,500 jobs a month.

The figure below shows the state’s jobs deficit—the gap between read more

Study Calls for New Approach to State Financial Aid

By Ashley Spalding
May 16, 2012

A new report by the Brookings Institution makes the case for overhauling state financial aid grant programs to focus on “students whose chances of enrolling and succeeding in college will be most improved by the receipt of state support.” Brookings suggests that financial aid should target students with the greatest financial need—particularly those from low- and moderate-income families—while also tying that aid to advancement toward a college degree.

Yet in Kentucky, the report notes, only 49 percent of state aid is based on financial need, compared to 73 percent of read more

Kentucky’s Adult Education Challenge

By Jason Bailey
April 30, 2012

Education cannot solve all of our economic problems, as the many college-educated young people now unemployed and underemployed can attest. But low levels of educational attainment are an important reason for Kentucky’s economic challenges. A more skilled and educated citizenry is critical to building a Kentucky economy and society that can flourish.

While policy discussions of education often focus on children and traditional-age college students, Kentucky adults ages 25-54 face severe gaps in college attainment that impede state progress and family well-being. Those adults will be participating in the workforce read more

Budget Makes Education Goals Harder to Achieve with Cuts to Per-Student Funding

By Ashley Spalding
April 19, 2012

Kentucky has set high goals and taken great strides in improving educational achievement and degree attainment rates. However, the 2013-2014 state budget will make progress difficult over the next two years given its cuts in per-student funding for both P-12 and higher education.

Education Goals Budget Brief read more

Growth of Economic Development Incentives Comes with Little Accountability

By Jason Bailey
April 13, 2012

Two new reports released this week call attention to the growth of state economic development tax incentives and the lack of accountability mechanisms that would enable states to know what they are getting for those subsidies.

In its new report “Evidence Counts,” the Pew Center on the States notes that states spend billions of dollars each year on tax incentives to attract businesses without adequate measures to assess whether those incentives deliver the needed return for the investment.

The report identifies 13 states as “leading the way” toward greater assessment read more

What Are Taxes For?

By Ashley Spalding
April 13, 2012

Tax Day is an important time for Kentuckians to consider the role of government in our state and nation. Taxes are a critical tool for doing things together that we cannot do alone. They support investment in education, health care, infrastructure, social services and other public structures essential for the common good in Kentucky.

These days, taxes are the subject of great controversy. But the investments paid for by tax dollars play a unique role in: advancing economic development; contributing to improved health and safety; creating educated workers and citizens; read more

Decline of TANF Caseloads Not the Result of Decreasing Poverty

By Ashley Spalding
April 6, 2012

Caseloads for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a safety net program designed to help families facing economic hardship meet basic needs, have declined sharply since 1995. Some policymakers have cited this decline as proof of the success of the 1996 welfare reform law.

However, a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) finds that these decreases in TANF enrollments nationwide were actually accompanied by overall increases in poverty.1 According to the report, TANF enrollments decreased 58 percent between 1995 and 2010, but the number of read more

Budget Agreement Affirms Deep Cuts to Core Investments

By Ashley Spalding
April 5, 2012

The 2012-2014 budget bill that passed both the House and Senate late last week is—like the budgets previously proposed this year by the Governor, House and Senate—based primarily on cuts. These cuts will further strain the state’s essential programs and services and prevent critical investments in Kentucky’s future.

The budget bill generally upholds the cuts to 2012 funding levels made in the Governor’s budget, which include:

Across state government: 8.4% Universities and community college system: 6.4% Kentucky Educational Television, libraries and archives, career and technical education: 4.2% Public safety including read more

Report Highlights Kentucky’s Need for More Progressive Income Tax

By Jason Bailey
April 4, 2012

A report released today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) shows that income taxes for Kentucky families slightly above the poverty line are among the highest in the nation for that income group.

The report says that in 2011 a two-parent family of four in Kentucky with income of only $28,773 (25 percent above the poverty line) paid $1,021 in state income taxes, an amount higher than any other state.

This dubious distinction is because the legislature has been unwilling to comprehensively reform its income tax to read more

The Benefits of Expanded Pre-School

By Jason Bailey
March 28, 2012

In its final days of negotiating a new budget, a sticking point between the House and the Senate is whether to include new dollars for the expansion of pre-school. The governor had proposed $15 million in 2014 for 4,400 new preschool slots for four year-olds, and the House put in $7.5 million for half that many openings. However, the Senate included no new money for pre-school.

Pre-school is an effective long-term economic development strategy. Economist Timothy Bartik examined the economic impact of universal pre-school programs and found that every $1 read more