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State government jobs go unfilled in Kentucky as the private sector thrives

Ryland Barton

While the private sector is thriving, the state government continues to see job losses. That’s the analysis of Jason Bailey, founder and Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

In an interview with WEKU’s Eastern Standard, Bailey said state employees did not receive pay raises for 10 out of 12 years and since 2014 they no longer get a traditional pension plan.

“There’s just a very difficult time in attracting people to those jobs. The pay is low. The benefits aren't what they used to be. And so people are finding that there are private sector options that pay more,” said Bailey.

Bailey said there are a huge number of openings in public sector jobs. The economist added that these are important jobs the community relies on, like social workers, environmental regulators and educators.

Meanwhile, there’s a historic budget surplus on the books and Kentucky lawmakers are considering cutting income tax rates. Bailey said this is a concern as the surplus may be largely due to temporary conditions like inflation and pandemic era stimulus.

“When we make permanent reduction, we're giving away a lot of money that we will need and that we've shown that we'd need over time to pay for our public schools to pay for our infrastructure and health care and other basic needs,” said Bailey.

Baily said nearly half of Kentucky’s budget comes from the state income tax.

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Samantha is WEKU's All Things Considered Host and also reports on news of interest in the commonwealth. Sam is a graduate of Morehead State University and worked for MSU's Public Radio Station WMKY.
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