A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Inequality between rich and poor Kentucky school districts grows amid COVID costs, revenue losses

By Anna Baumann Kentucky Center for Economic Policy As schools across the commonwealth face unprecedented new costs and challenges from a surging pandemic and historic recession, prior cuts in state core funding for K-12 education make the challenge even worse for Kentucky’s poorest districts. A new analysis from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows the funding gap between wealthy and poor...

Jason Bailey: Meager executive action is no substitute for real Congressional aid

Kentucky’s economy is weakening in the face of a resurging pandemic and the end of stimulus aid. Consumer spending is sagging following the July 25 expiration of $600 a week in supplemental unemployment benefits. And just turn on the news and you hear story after story of jobless workers unable make ends meet as benefits are cut in the midst of a record slump. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has failed...

Daily Yonder: Will a rural homelessness crisis hit after benefit and eviction moratoriums end?

By Liz Carey Special to KyForward With federal unemployment benefits ending soon and moratoriums on evictions soon to follow, social services organizations are bracing for a homelessness crisis to hit rural Americans. Adrienne Bush, executive director for the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky, says her agency anticipates the termination of federal unemployment benefits could mean as many...

Jason Bailey: Kentucky’s senators must agree to adequate federal aid for state to survive recession

A couple months ago, some public officials and corporate lobbyists began eagerly calling for states to reopen rapidly as the way to solve the COVID-19 problems of mass unemployment and struggling businesses. But the choice to reopen before the virus had been controlled and minimized — and without adequate testing, contact tracing and protections for workers and consumers — has been a dismal failure. COVID-19...

Kentucky continues to see sky-high unemployment claims as pandemic downturn drags on

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service More than 800,000 Kentuckians have filed for unemployment insurance since the start of the new coronavirus pandemic, and experts warn the economic downturn will likely have ripple effects that could last for years. Ashley Spalding, research director with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says a major issue for many states is the lack of a rainy day fund,...

Kentucky lawmakers considering bill demanding state’s public agencies cooperate with ICE

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill to require local police and other public agencies to actively participate in enforcing federal immigration law. Co-sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll from Paducah and ten other lawmakers – all Republicans – the bill is slated to be read tomorrow in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Jessica Klein, policy associate...

Data shows Madison County jail crowding driven by defendants awaiting trial for low-level offenses

As the Madison County fiscal court prepares to vote on whether to raise property taxes in order to fund a new $45 million jail, newly available data shows a significant portion of the jail’s population is people being held pretrial for low-level, non-violent offenses and who have been deemed low or moderate risk of either failing to appear in court or committing new criminal activity. This data reinforces...

Kentucky Center for Economic Policy report indicates staying in jail in Ky. may depend on where you live

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Where you live in Kentucky might determine whether you stay in jail before trial because you can’t afford the cash bail, according to a new report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. Researchers found the number of people released from jail before their trial without monetary conditions differs drastically depending on the county – from just 5%...

Here’s a new tool to track ongoing changes to state’s Medicaid program, includes county enrollment data

Kentucky has a new website that shows an up-to-date timeline of all the changes in the state’s Medicaid program since 2014; provides links to Medicaid resources such as contracts, court documents, state notices and research; and provides a place for people to share stories about how changes to the program have affected them or their loved ones. It also provides Kentucky-specific Medicaid data,...

Jason Bailey: Watch out for attack on pensions on legislative session’s final day, March 28

The General Assembly adjourned for the veto period without providing relief from soon-to-spike pension costs to quasi-governmental organizations like regional universities and community mental health centers. The legislature can still prevent an unaffordable increase on the session’s final day — March 28 — but must reject attempts to attach harmful pension changes that would set Kentucky...

Center for Economic Policy report shows time limits, other challenges hinder of SNAP E&T program

More than 10,000 Kentuckians have lost food assistance in recent months as a result of the state’s decision to expire time limit waivers for some Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. A new report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KCEP), “Time Limits and Other Challenges Hinder Success of Kentucky’s SNAP E&T Program,” shows the state’s recent expansion...

Commentary: Consensus emerging behind reforming Kentucky’s troubled criminal justice system

By Dave Adkisson and Jason Bailey Special to KyForward Kentucky’s skyrocketing incarceration trendlines are bringing worry lines to legislators’ faces in Frankfort.  There is, however, a growing consensus and hope among various stakeholder groups, including jailers, the chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, civil rights advocates, prosecutors, think tanks, the business community and other...

10,000 Kentuckians face new struggle to provide for families as SNAP benefits work requirements begin

Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Putting food on the table has become a much bigger struggle this year for tens of thousands of Kentuckians. The state began reinstating work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on a county-by-county basis back in February. And since May, new data shows one-in-five people subject to the requirement have since lost SNAP assistance. More than...

Despite economic progress, many Kentuckians still struggling to afford basic necessities

New U.S. Census Bureau data shows continued progress in our economy overall but a relatively large share of Kentuckians still struggling to afford the basics, especially people of color, and a lack of progress for communities in eastern Kentucky. The data shows 17.2 percent of Kentuckians lived below the poverty line in 2017. The state’s poverty rate is an improvement from the 18.5 percent rate in...

Kentucky’s economy remains strong, but report shows stagnant, inadequate pay in many areas

While Kentucky’s economy as a whole has been in a period of recovery ever since 2010, jobs continue to be lacking in many parts of the state and wages remain stagnant and inadequate to make ends meet, according to a new report released this week by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KCEP). KCEP’s Labor Day publication, “The State of Working Kentucky 2018,” looks at the condition of the...

Jason Bailey: Kentucky needs a new economic agenda, from the bottom up and the middle out

When Kentuckians have made progress in the past — from improving our schools to expanding civil rights — we’ve come together around specific plans to build a better future. Making Kentucky’s economy thrive is a crucial goal we all share today. But Kentuckians across our state see our economy falling short. Despite a declining unemployment rate ever since 2010, there aren’t enough...

New school year may mean tough choices for districts learning to operate with fewer dollars

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service The school day might look a little different for Kentucky kids this year, as districts figure out how to function with fewer dollars. Senior Policy Analyst with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy Ashley Spaulding explained that for more than a decade, in order to make room for tax cuts, state legislators and the governor slashed funding for pre-k through 12...

Jason Bailey: It’s time for Kentucky to embrace a sensible approach to paying employee pensions

The long pension saga of the last year gave rise to the largest mobilization of Kentuckians to the Capitol the state has seen in decades. The unpopularity of proposals led lawmakers to try sneaking the final pension bill into sewage legislation, which the Franklin Circuit Court declared unconstitutional last week. The whole episode will mean a halt to more legislative attacks on pensions for the time...

Commentary: Coalition of Kentucky organizations oppose food assistance cuts in Farm Bill

One in seven Kentuckians has food on their table in part thanks to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The program lifts 164,000 Kentuckians, including 73,000 children, out of poverty. It sends nearly $1 billion a year to grocery stores and our state economy, and injects even more into our local communities during hard times when they most need it. For decades, SNAP has been a program...

Jason Bailey: Tax plan is a tax shift with troubling long-term effect of state’s revenues; cuts for wealthy

The General Assembly tax bill Monday is a shift in taxes away from corporations and high-income people and over to low- and middle-income Kentuckians. Although the official estimate is that it would bring $248 million more in net revenue by the second year, the plan relies heavily on a fading source in a cigarette tax increase and very uncertain new revenues from conformity to the federal tax code....