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 progressive economic group says Kentucky should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act based on recently release Census data. The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy points to data that shows the percentage of Kentuckians without insurance dropped last year based on early elements of the health care law.