KY Policy Blog

Criminal Justice Reform Bill Would Save State Money and Reduce Recidivism

By Ashley Spalding
March 2, 2016

While our state has taken some important steps in passing criminal justice reform legislation in 2011, additional reforms are needed. HB 412, a bill sponsored by Representative Yonts, would further the legacy of 2011’s Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act (HB 463) by reducing time spent in jail/prison for certain non-violent offenses, increasing economic opportunities for some offenders and saving the state money. Kentucky is in particular need of additional reform measures given the increases in the inmate population, as shown in the graph below, and associated spending that has read more

Cuts to Adult Education Would Decrease Access to GED Credential

By Ashley Spalding
February 25, 2016

The cuts in the governor’s budget proposal would hit Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE) hard — reducing Kentuckians’ access to the supports needed to prepare for and pass the GED test. GED diploma attainment is a critical economic development issue, and the state has faced dramatic declines in GED graduates in recent years.

Adult education is essential to boosting educational attainment in the state, which can mean greater employment opportunities, increased earnings and the capacity to contribute more in taxes. Yet in 2013, 360,830 working age Kentuckians – 13.1 percent – read more

Three Steps to a Better Budget this Session

By Jason Bailey
February 25, 2016

The General Assembly has less than two months to finalize the next two-year state budget. Although the governor’s budget rightly takes a big step toward fully funding our pension liabilities, taken as a whole his plan would send the state backwards by deeply slashing the systems Kentucky relies on for the well-being of its citizens.

We don’t need to make such a painful choice. Kentucky can have a budget this session that more aggressively pays down our debt while better protecting education, human services and other vital investments needed to read more

Coal County Services Harmed by Severance Tax Collapse at Time of Transition

By Anna Baumann
February 24, 2016

A steep decline in the production of coal in recent years has reduced severance tax dollars going to Kentucky’s General Fund and back to coal counties, stretching already tight state and local budgets even further. In 2015, coal severance tax receipts were just 62 percent of what they were at their peak in 2009, and the forecast for the biennium estimates that in 2018, they’ll be down $185 million from 2009 receipts.

In yesterday’s meeting of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, legislators heard testimony from coal county judge executives read more

Cuts to Property Valuation Administrators Counterproductive

By Ashley Spalding
February 24, 2016

Kentucky’s Property Valuation Administrators (PVAs) testified to a House budget review subcommittee yesterday that proposed budget cuts could compromise the state’s ability to generate property tax revenue. Such cuts may be counterproductive because by undermining our ability to collect revenue they can worsen budget problems.

Kentucky counts on property taxes to help fund state services, school districts and local governments. In 2014, total real and tangible property tax revenue to the state totaled $2.8 billion. About $1.4 billion of those dollars are generated locally for schools.

Collecting that revenue depends read more

Fact Sheet: Need-Based Financial Aid Dollars Being Diverted to General Fund

By Dustin Pugel
February 23, 2016

For years millions of scholarship dollars have been diverted away from Kentucky’s need-based financial aid programs to the General Fund.

Studies have shown that need-based financial aid: • Increases college enrollment among low- and moderate-income students. • Increases college persistence and the number of credits earned.

Kentucky has two need-based financial aid programs funded by the lottery. According to state law, lottery funding should be split 3 ways: •  Literacy programs receive $3 million off the top. •  The merit-based scholarship, the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES), receives the next read more

Unanswered Questions about the Cost and Feasibility of Shutting Down Kynect

By Jason Bailey
February 23, 2016

The governor has notified the federal government that he intends to shut down Kynect and shift Kentucky to the federal health insurance exchange for the next open enrollment period that starts this November. In addition to potential harm to Kentuckians, including higher premiums and fewer people covered, big questions persist about the cost and feasibility of making this transition.

Kynect is widely viewed as a national model for its effectiveness in getting people signed up for the health insurance they are eligible to receive. And it’s shown in the results read more

Cuts to Community Colleges Mean Disinvestment in Kentucky’s Primary Workforce Development Source

By Ashley Spalding
February 22, 2016

Governor Bevin’s interest in investing in workforce development is a notable priority. However, the approach outlined in his budget proposal decreases investment in the state’s primary site of workforce development: its community colleges.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) is by far the state’s largest workforce development program. In 2015 the state budgeted $185.9 million for academic programs and employer services and an additional $5.6 million specifically for workforce development and training at KCTCS, according to the Legislative Research Commission’s Office of Budget Review. That far exceeds spending read more

Infographic: Kentucky Higher Education Cuts Among Worst in Country

By Kenny Colston
February 18, 2016

Even as most states have begun to restore funding for higher education after cuts during the recession, Kentucky has continued to reduce funding as outlined a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Continued cuts will make it harder for the state to grow and attract businesses that rely on a well-educated workforce.  To reverse these disturbing trends, Kentucky needs to make higher education a greater priority. In order to make sure the Commonwealth has enough money to fund higher education adequately, lawmakers need to commit to revenue-raising read more

Tuition Freeze Is Not Proper Answer to College Affordability Problem Given Large, Continuous Budget Cuts

By Ashley Spalding
February 17, 2016

With the steep increases in tuition at Kentucky’s public universities and community colleges in recent years, a state mandated tuition freeze as proposed in SB 75 might sound like a good idea. But even with past tuition increases, the state’s higher education institutions are facing significant funding shortfalls once the growth in fixed costs like health insurance and utilities, on top of General Fund cuts, are taken into consideration.

Even while additional state cuts to higher education are being proposed, proponents of a tuition freeze assert that Kentucky’s public universities read more