A new report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KCEP) proposes more than 30 policy ideas aimed at building an economy that works for all Kentuckians. “An Economic Agenda for a Thriving Commonwealth” is comprised of evidence-based ideas to improve job quality, strengthen education, build healthy, resilient communities, update our infrastructure and clean up our tax code to support investments. Together these strategies create a path forward for Kentucky that unlocks potential in our people and our communities.
“Kentucky is in great need of new, bold ideas that truly tackle the real challenges Kentucky faces. Instead, our debate has been consumed by trickle-down policies that just lower wages for workers, turn back the clock on public education, cut taxes for people at the top and widen inequities across Kentucky,” KCEP Executive Director Jason Bailey said. “We need policy ideas that grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”
The policies in “An Economic Agenda for a Thriving Commonwealth” range from giving Kentucky workers a much-needed and -deserved raise, to making college and healthcare more affordable for everyone. Specific ideas include the following:
- Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over time.
- Provide workers with access to earned paid sick leave and paid family leave, ensuring that common life events such as illness and childbirth don’t undermine economic security.
- Reinvest in P-12 education so that teachers and classrooms have the resources they need to succeed, expand access to preschool and close gaps in investments between our poor and wealthy districts.
- Pay for the equivalent of two years of community college tuition and fees for all Kentuckians attending public higher education institutions; and expand need-based financial aid to help students cover additional costs like housing and food.
- Not only abandon barriers to health coverage being pursued by the current administration, but make health coverage more affordable for all Kentuckians with a Medicaid buy-in public option, increase investments in community-based care for elderly Kentuckians and people with disabilities, and expand addiction treatment and mental health services.
- Reduce incarceration through safe, commonsense means such as lowering penalties for low-level, non-violent crimes and expanding alternatives to incarceration including restorative justice.
- Invest in energy efficiency and clean energy, roads, bridges and broadband internet access to improve our quality of life and reduce costs to households and businesses from our outdated infrastructure.
- Create a state bank to help finance community infrastructure and student loan debt, and keep money circulating in Kentucky.
The report also describes how we can pay for these investments in Kentucky’s future.
“Several decades of more tax breaks for corporations has not been a winning strategy for Kentucky’s economy, but cleaning up the tax code is,” KCEP Senior Policy Fellow Pam Thomas said. “If we restore a graduated income tax and end a range of tax breaks so that wealthy Kentuckians and corporations are chipping in at a level closer to what the rest of us contribute, we can afford the investments that will provide a real return to our people and our economy.”
KCEP will host a webinar this evening, Wednesday, August 22 at 7 pm, to share more about the new report. RSVP here and find the full report here.