From Forward Kentucky: Five strategies for a new economic agenda for Kentucky

By JASON BAILEY

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 jobs in our communities, and certainly not enough good jobs where wages are growing. We face significant challenges ranging from drug addiction to mass incarceration. Investment in vital public services is declining. And inequality is large and growing, including disparities based on race, gender and region that keep us apart.

At the same time, the policy ideas that have dominated the state debate in recent years would make many of those problems worse: by kicking people off health coverage, lowering wages for workers, reducing retirement security for public employees, and cutting taxes for the wealthy. The dominant formula for what is falsely called “economic development”—a trickle-down approach based on making Kentucky as cheap as possible for big corporations—just sets us further back.

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