KY Policy Blog

What the Finally-Released Actuarial Analysis Tells Us About So-Called Pension Reform

By Jason Bailey
December 20, 2019

Today Governor Beshear released the actuarial analysis of the 2017 “Keeping the Promise” pension proposal that had been suppressed for the last two years. As expected and as we noted at the time, the report shows closing the existing plans and moving workers into 401k-style defined contribution (DC) plans would’ve cost more to give employees less. 

The report has lessons that should apply to Kentucky’s pension debate in the future.

Moving to 401ks costs more than keeping existing plans

A centerpiece of the plan was to move new employees in read more

Less to Sweep from Health Fund in Next Budget

By Jason Bailey
December 20, 2019

A fund for employees’ health insurance that Kentucky has drained of increasingly large amounts of money in order to balance the state budget is very unlikely to be able to play that same role in the next budget. Limited resources in the fund create more pressure for legislators to find other ways to address a growing budget gap in the coming legislative session.

The Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan provides health coverage to nearly 300,000 public employees and retirees. It is funded through employer contributions and employee premiums.

The plan began read more

With Proposed Barriers to Medicaid Gone, Kentucky Should Pursue Other Ways to Support Kentuckians’ Health

By Jessica Klein
December 19, 2019

When all Kentuckians are able to meet basic needs and be healthy, they are equipped to contribute to their communities. Thanks to Governor Beshear’s recent withdrawal of a waiver proposal to take away health coverage for people who fail to meet a work reporting requirement, Kentucky has protected health and has become the first state to fully eliminate this threat. Going forward, the state has another important opportunity to make sure Kentuckians’ basic needs are met by reinstating time limit waivers on food assistance in economically struggling counties.

The Medicaid read more

Forecast Confirms Weak Revenue Growth for Next Budget

By Pam Thomas
December 18, 2019

The official body charged with predicting revenues for the state budget met yesterday and confirmed a weak revenue forecast for the next two years — meaning more budget cuts are on the way unless new revenues are put on the table.

Estimates for the 2020-2022 biennium anticipate growth of just 1.3% in in 2021 and 1.8% in 2022, producing $146 million in new revenues in 2021 and $207 million in 2022. Compared to budget needs, as well as historical annual growth in the total General Fund, growth in the next read more

Kentucky’s Youngest Kids Are Losing Health Coverage

By Dustin Pugel
December 11, 2019

Kentucky is 3rd-worst in the nation in its alarming recent rise in uninsured children below the age of 6. According to an analysis of the most recent census data by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, the number of uninsured children in Kentucky rose from 8,608 in 2016 to 12,973 in 2018 — meaning 4,365 more young kids don’t have health coverage. The rate of uninsured grew from 2.7% to 4%. 

This decline in the number of young Kentuckians with insurance is in line with the broader coverage losses read more

Slot Machines Multiplying Rapidly Across Kentucky While State Deeply Undertaxes Them

By Pam Thomas
December 3, 2019

Betting using instant wagering machines, which resemble and operate similar to slot machines, has exploded across Kentucky and thousands more machines will come online in the near future. Yet the state taxes them at very low rates compared to slot machines in other states and even compared to live racing within Kentucky at comparable levels of betting. Especially in the face of more state budget cuts next session unless new revenue is generated, taxing these machines appropriately is an action the 2020 General Assembly should take.

Lost revenue is substantial read more

Increased Funding Is Improving Kentucky’s Pension Plans

By Jason Bailey
November 18, 2019

The General Assembly’s return to making full contributions to Kentucky’s pension systems in recent years is improving the systems’ health, as shown in newly available year-end reports. The challenges that remain will require ongoing discipline and a new commitment to generating the revenue to ensure continued improvement.

The Teachers’ Retirement System ended the year with its funded ratio climbing from 57.7% to 58.1%. That’s the third consecutive year the funded ratio has improved, thanks to the state resuming full funding to the plan in 2017. As a result, the contribution read more

Policy Choices Pushing Kentucky’s Corporate Taxes Down

By Jason Bailey
November 4, 2019

When the General Assembly meets to craft a new state budget starting in January, they will do so with less revenue available from corporations. The reduction in corporate tax revenues expected over the next biennium continues a decades-long trend resulting from growing tax breaks provided by the General Assembly and a failure to close corporate loopholes.

The preliminary estimate from the state’s Consensus Forecasting Group says revenue from the corporate income tax and the related limited liability entity tax will fall to between 5% and 6% of the state’s total read more

Proposed USDA Rule Would Limit Food for Kids in Kentucky, at Home and in School

By Jessica Klein
November 1, 2019

In two ways, a proposed USDA rule change would leave more Kentucky children hungry. The change would make it harder for families to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), putting at risk benefits for 42,000 Kentuckians including households with children. And it would reduce the number of kids eligible for free school meal programs that only recently expanded across the commonwealth.

SNAP is one of the most effective anti-hunger initiatives in the U.S. As of 2017, 258,000 children in Kentucky got help with meals through this form of read more

Momentum Growing Among States to Abandon Barriers to Medicaid Coverage

By Dustin Pugel
October 31, 2019

Amid lawsuits, health coverage losses and high administrative costs, four of the ten states that have gained federal approval to take Medicaid coverage from people who don’t meet a work reporting requirement have halted their implementation. Two additional states, including Kentucky, have been forced to suspend implementation by court order. Kentucky should join the states that abandon their plans by fully withdrawing its own, which the state estimates would cause about 100,000 people to lose Medicaid coverage and would be especially expensive to implement.

Indiana is the most recent state read more