Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

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A new report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows the number of people incarcerated in the state–and the costs of keeping them locked up–have risen over the past decade. Kentucky has the 7th-highest incarceration rate in the nation.

Nearly 60 bills passed by the Kentucky legislature in the past 10 years have increased or expanded felony criminal punishments, compared to only 10 bills that have reduced criminal punishment. According to Prison Policy Initiative, at least 41,000, Kentuckians are currently incarcerated in the state’s jails and prisons. 


A pair of Kentucky organizations say the recently signed COVID-19 relief package is helpful, but not enough to get many struggling Kentuckians through the remainder of the pandemic. 

The bill that President Trump signed on Sunday includes a $600 per person stimulus check, a $300 per week extension on unemployment benefits until March, and extends the eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021. 

However, Jason Bailey, the executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, doubts the aid will last Kentuckians through the spring and summer. 

Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

A new report says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) improves health and reduces costs across Kentucky.

The report from the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows more than 500,000 Kentuckians get help buying groceries through SNAP.

Kentucky has the eighth-highest rate of food insecurity in the nation. KCEP says a growing body of research connects food insecurity to a higher rate of diabetes, chronic illnesses, and other negative health outcomes. 

New Grant To Fund Research On Kentucky Jails

Jun 5, 2019

A new grant will allow the nonprofit Kentucky Center For Economic Policy to research Kentucky’s rising incarceration rates.

The $10,000 grant from the New York-based nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice was announced Tuesday. KCEP Executive Director Jason Bailey said his organization will research and collect data on county jails in Barren, Leslie, Boyle and Rowen counties in order to compare those jails’ data.

He said KCEP chose to research incarceration because Kentucky’s jail population is still climbing.

A Kentucky policy institute is pushing state lawmakers to address criminal justice reform during the next legislative session. The left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy hopes to see movement on a bail reform bill pre-filed for Kentucky’s 2019 legislative session.

The bill would overhaul how the state imposes monetary bail. Under the measure sponsored by eastern Kentucky Republican Representative John Blanton, a court would assess whether a defendant is at risk of failing to appear in court or is a danger to the public before imposing a cash bail.

Lisa Autry

A new report shows Kentucky has actually added fewer jobs in the 21 months since the controversial right-to-work law was passed in 2017, compared to the same time period before it was enacted.

Laws known as right-to-work prohibit unions from being able to collect what are known as “fair share fees”. Those fees are imposed on non-union employees in exchange for the benefits of being in a unionized workplace.

A report from the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy examines how the law has impacted jobs in the state.

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A new report says one-third of the more than $9 billion in announced investments for Kentucky last year wasn’t attached to any new jobs. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development said the state gave away more than $361 million in tax incentives in 2017.  

According to the report from the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, the state no longer releases a report listing facilities that closed in the state, making it difficult to determine how many net new jobs were created.

The report identified 1,209 jobs associated with Toyota’s $1.33 billion investment in 2017. But multiple news stories indicate no new jobs were connected to this investment, and the state’s Cabinet for economic development granted $43.5 million in tax breaks for the project.

New Report Shows Job Growth Lagging in Rural Kentucky

Aug 29, 2018
Becca Schimmel

Although jobs in Kentucky are growing, they still haven’t returned to pre-recession levels. The 2018 State of Working Kentucky report from the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows the state would need 60,000 more jobs to return to the pre-recession economy of 2000.

According to the report, wages have remained stagnant across multiple sectors and public investment in schools, payments to hospitals and public safety are playing a big role in where major employers locate.

Online Sales Tax Ruling Could Boost Kentucky Revenue

Jun 22, 2018

A decision Thursday from the U.S. Supreme Court could mean increased revenue for Kentucky. The ruling will allow states to collect sales taxes from online retailers.

Previous rulings limited a state’s ability to collect that revenue if the business didn’t have a physical presence in the state. Kentucky Center for Economic Policy Executive Director Jason Bailey said while there won’t be an immediate effect felt from the Supreme Court decision, it will eventually lead to more money for the commonwealth.

Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

A tax reform bill that passed Monday by Kentucky lawmakers is now awaiting a decision from Governor Matt Bevin. Some economists are saying the tax plan is more of a tax shift from wealthy individuals to middle and low income Kentuckians.


The plan would reduce the income tax rate for individuals as well as corporations. It would also broaden the services that could be taxed, such as landscaping, pet grooming and janitorial work.

A liberal-leaning public policy group said Kentucky’s per-pupil spending on public education is lower than it was ten years ago once inflation is taken into account.

During his budget address last month, Governor Bevin promised to maintain per-pupil funding for the state’s K-12 students.

But a report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows that when inflation is taken into account, the amount of money spent by the state on a per-pupil basis has actually decreased by 16 percent since 2008. Ashley Spalding is a senior policy analyst with KCEP. She said claims that public school funding has been maintained are misleading.

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A new report by the progressive Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says continued state budget cuts to education over the years have hurt Kentucky’s preschool-grade 12 students.

The report surveyed school districts across the commonwealth. Districts that participated represent more than 74 percent of students in Kentucky.

Divestment in P-12 education has led to fewer days on the school calendar and fewer dollars spent on health services, according to the report. Districts also reported reductions in staff and lack of funds for staff raises.

An economic think-tank says a raise in the minimum wage would benefit reduce child poverty and help about a quarter of Kentucky workers.

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says a $10.10 an hour minimum wage would lead to a boost in consumer spending. That, they say, would spur job creation, and allow low-income families to make ends meet.

Opponents argue higher wages would force layoffs or cause businesses to raise prices. But center director Jason Bailey says it would actually keep employees in what are currently lower-paying jobs. That cuts the costs businesses pay to hire and train new workers.

“The lack of consumer spending is a big impediment to additional hiring; that additional money in people’s pockets, low-wage workers’ pockets at this time, money that they will then spend, could actually result in a small job gain," Bailey said.

Bailey supports a bill filed by House Speaker Greg Stumbo that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. A new Public Policy Polling survey shows that 57 percent of Kentuckians support the idea.

Stumbo’s measure would also require pay equity for women, who earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

A non-partisan economic policy group has released a report showing large gaps in per-student funding among school districts that approved tax increases this year.

A majority of Kentucky school boards approved the maximum 4 percent property tax increase to help fund public schools. The state hasn’t raised per-pupil funding for a number of years.

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy report shows that some districts like Southgate Independent Schools in northern Kentucky will receive an additional $200 more per student through property taxes. While other counties like Bath County, in eastern Kentucky, will only receive $24 more per student.

“One of the consequences of that is that we’re going to make the gap between rich and poor schools even larger," said Jason Bailey, Director of the Center for Economic Policy.

Several school boards have joined Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday in calling on lawmakers to restore state education funding to pre-recession levels.

A new report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows a big gap between Kentucky’s income levels on who pays taxes.

The report says Kentucky’s top 1 percent income bracket pays roughly 5 percent of the state’s income, while the bottom 20 percent pays 9 percent.

Middle income levels are saddled with a higher percent, the report said.

Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, says the numbers show tax reform needs to happen quickly in Kentucky to better balance the burdens.

“This is one of the big issues that tax reform needs to address, the issue of the fairness of the tax system and the fact that there is inequity in who pays,” he said.

Lawmakers are likely to put off taking up recommendations by the state’s latest tax reform commission until a special session later this year.