KY Policy Blog

Kentucky Response to COVID-19: Inadequate Rainy Day Fund Heightens Need for Federal Aid and More State Revenue

By Jason Bailey
March 13, 2020

States set aside rainy day funds to draw on when economic downturns or crises hit. Governor Beshear may well need to tap the state’s rainy day fund to deal with the costs of directly addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, which he has the authority to do after declaring a State of Emergency.

But Kentucky has among the most depleted rainy day funds in the country, with only enough money for the equivalent of 4 days of state budget needs (and 10 days by the summer, after additional dollars are scheduled to read more

Kentucky Response to COVID-19: Protect State Economy Through Improved Unemployment Insurance

By Dustin Pugel
March 12, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked concerns about an economic slowdown resulting from widespread shutdowns in the global economy, and recent cancellations of large events in the United States. Continued economic chilling will almost certainly lead to layoffs in Kentucky, and so to plan for that, lawmakers in Frankfort and Washington DC need to prepare our unemployment insurance (UI) program to dampen the economic harm caused by rising joblessness.

Federal improvements to UI are needed, but state action is required

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act being considered in Congress would read more

Three Steps to Passing a Better Budget for Kentucky

By Pam Thomas
March 12, 2020

The budget passed by the House mostly avoids another round of damaging cuts to programs and services that have been common since the Great Recession (with a few important exceptions, like the elimination of direct aid to libraries). However, because it is based on the worst revenue forecast in 25 years and is not accompanied by significant revenue raisers, there simply isn’t enough revenue to support the level of investment necessary to move the commonwealth forward.

Furthermore, there will likely be additional fiscal strain in Kentucky related to the quickly read more

A Move from Local Occupational Taxes to Sales Taxes Would Be a Regressive Tax Shift

By Jason Bailey
March 10, 2020

Some proponents of HB 475, a constitutional amendment to expand revenue options for local governments, say it will result in localities moving away from occupational taxes and towards sales taxes at the local level. Doing so would be a harmful tax shift that will worsen the upside-down nature of Kentucky’s tax system. Low- and middle-income Kentuckians would pay more in overall taxes while higher-income people would receive a tax cut.

The impact in each community would vary based on what choices are made locally. But analysis by the Institute on read more

HB 21 Would Protect Kentuckians with Preexisting Conditions If ACA Protections Lost

By Dustin Pugel
March 10, 2020

Nearly 1.8 million Kentuckians have a preexisting health condition that, if it were not for specific protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), could lead to them being denied coverage, having certain kinds of medical benefits withheld or having their cost-sharing portion increased. Now, with the ACA in jeopardy due to a federal court case, House Bill 21 (HB 21) sponsored by Rep. Patti Minter would ensure that should those federal protections in the ACA be struck down, Kentucky would keep some of the most important protections on the state read more

Bipartisan Interest in Tax Break Accountability

By Pam Thomas
March 9, 2020

The lack of revenue with which legislators are creating the next biennial budget is an urgent reminder of the need to clean up the tax breaks that limit the amount that is available. Legislators from both parties have filed four bills this session that seek to provide more transparency, greater oversight and better information about the impact of proposed and enacted legislation on state revenues. Each takes a different approach to addressing weaknesses in our current system, under which fiscal notes are not required prior to the passage of legislation, read more

Report Shows Importance of Expungement to Kentuckians’ Health – House Bill 327 Would Be Step Forward

By Ashley Spalding
March 2, 2020

Expanding expungement in Kentucky is good for health, according to new research published by the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. The report details the findings from a Health Impact Assessment conducted to inform lawmakers about the potential health implications of changes to the state’s existing expungement policy. Among the report’s recommendations are changes proposed in House Bill (HB) 327 sponsored by Rep. Kevin Bratcher, which would result in the automatic expungement of charges that are dismissed or result in an acquittal.

The Health Impact Assessment highlights the read more

State Policy Decisions Hinder Kentucky’s Readiness for Coronavirus

By Jason Bailey
March 2, 2020

As fears rise about coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, state policy choices create a context that either limits or enables harm and disruption from its potential spread.

In Kentucky, risk is worsened by the lack of policies creating access to paid sick days for many Kentucky workers — especially those in low-wage jobs — and cutbacks in funding for local health departments. The state’s relative success in getting people health coverage is a bright spot, though the recent erosion in coverage heightens concerns.

Kentucky lacks paid sick day policy, read more

House Bill 1 Still Focuses on Punitive Measures that Take Assistance Away

By Dustin Pugel
February 20, 2020

The new version of House Bill 1 introduced in committee today, like the original proposal, contains a number of misguided and punitive measures that create barriers to assistance for Kentuckians who struggle to make ends meet, including proposals that are administratively complex and likely run afoul of several rules. Those elements should be abandoned, and a few potentially positive ideas in the bill, including a new health coverage provision, should be explored further as part of a supportive approach to protecting Kentucky’s safety net.

HB 1 creates barriers to food, read more

House Bill 413 Creates Greater Accountability and Transparency for Tax Expenditures

By Pam Thomas
February 14, 2020

HB 413, sponsored by Representative James Tipton, is a good government bill that establishes a structure for the General Assembly to know more about and better consider the purpose, cost and impact of tax expenditures. 

Kentucky loses more than $8 billion every year through tax expenditures – tax breaks, exemptions and exclusions that leave us with less money for investments in schools, infrastructure and other building blocks of our communities. Creating a process for the regular and continuous scrutiny of tax expenditures is an essential first step toward building a read more