At a recent Kentucky Board of Education meeting, we had a presentation from Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Rather than take a position concerning the presentation, I thought some of the facts were very interesting and should be part of any future budget discussions.
Corrections Spending in Kentucky
· Spending has seen 44 percent increase since 2000, as compared to 33 percent increase in General Fund.
· It costs $19,000 per year to incarcerate a prisoner and only $9,200 a year to educate a child in P-12.
· Could we not save money on corrections by reducing our dropout rates and investing in early childhood education?
Medicaid Spending in Kentucky
· Medicaid budget is growing twice as fast as the General Fund budget.
· Medicaid enrollment increase is three times the predicted and budgeted amount.
· There will be a significant decrease in federal funding support for Medicaid in FY11.
· Medicaid moved from 6.5 percent of the state budget to the current 13.7 percent.
· Is there not a correlation that better-educated citizenry has better health?
Public Employee Health Care
· Increasing five times faster than General Fund budget (174 percent increase, compared to 33 percent General Fund increase since 2000).
· Health care for public employees currently comprises 12 percent of the state budget and 16 percent of the P-12 education budget.
· Health care costs are 17.2 percent of salary for public employees, compared to 10.8 percent for private companies’ employees.
I don’t envy the General Assembly as the members reconvene to deal with budget issues. These are difficult times that will require lots of collaboration and consideration of many ideas for improving efficiency and effectiveness of all programs.
I asked today if we thought Santa would drop a sack of dollars for Kentucky into the General Fund, and I am afraid that the answer will probably be “no.” However, no matter the funding, we must educate our children and ensure their future.