GLI testifies in support of legislation expanding access to education

GLI Advocacy staff testified in Frankfort in support legislation to expand access to education and advance racial equity, leading to unanimous passage of the bill by legislators. Before the House Education Committee, GLI Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs, Charles Aull, voiced the business community’s support for House Bill 25, sponsored by Rep. Killian Timoney. This legislation would allow individuals with a felony record to access Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship funds for educational opportunities. Under current law, a felony disqualifies Kentuckians from being eligible for KEES funds. By removing this ban, thousands of Kentuckians who have made mistakes in the past and had run-ins with the law will have a better chance of successfully reentering society, supporting themselves and their families, and driving economic growth in our region.

Join GLI in advocating for House Bill 25 by contacting your legislators and voicing support. 

Access to education has been widely linked to reduced recidivism rates and successful reentry – top priorities for GLI and key components of our regional workforce development strategy. GLI also supported Congress’s recent removal of the ban on incarcerated individuals from receiving Pell Grants.

GLI strongly supported this same legislation in the 2020 session, testifying in support of House Bill 368 in the House and Senate education committees. The bill passed the House unanimously but did not receive a full vote in the Senate. As with 2020, GLI will be championing this legislation again in the 2021 session.

Read GLI’s full testimony from February 9 below.

Chair Huff and committee members, thank you for this opportunity to speak about the business community’s support for House Bill 25 – and thank you to Representative Timoney for championing this important legislation. 

I know that time is of the essence in this legislative session, so I will capture the view of the Greater Louisville business community on this bill as concisely as possible: House Bill 25 is pro-workforce development, pro-access to opportunity for more Kentuckians, and pro-successful reentry for individuals coming back into our society.

It is critical that we not forget the workforce challenges that Kentucky employers faced prior to the pandemic and not kid ourselves into thinking that those same challenges somehow disappeared in March of last year. To the contrary, these challenges persist and will hold back our economic recovery. We must continue the important work developing our labor force. Our regional business community in Greater Louisville believes expanding access to educational opportunities for individuals with felony records should be a key part of Kentucky’s workforce development strategy.

I want to add that this bill also supports the goal of advancing racial equity in Kentucky. Our criminal justice system has had a disproportionate impact on Black Kentuckians. According to the Vera Institute, 21 percent of our state prison population is Black, while Black Kentuckians represent 9 percent of the state population. It is critical that we ensure all individuals leaving incarceration have full access to educational opportunities, which we know supports successful reentry and reduces the likelihood of them returning to jail or prison.

GLI strongly urges your support for House Bill 25.

GLI favors legislation the protects Kentucky businesses from a state tax increase

Protecting businesses’ bottom line throughout the pandemic and our economic recovery is a key priority for GLI. That’s why we are working to make sure that Kentucky businesses are fully able to deduct expenses paid with forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans, just as they are able to do under federal law. Under current Kentucky law, businesses will not be allowed to claim deductions for expenses paid with forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans. Without these deductions – to which businesses would ordinarily be entitled – employers throughout Kentucky will face a higher state tax burden than usual. This burden will fall especially hard on Greater Louisville, which received 30 percent of the Paycheck Protection Program loans distributed in Kentucky.

On Tuesday, GLI joined other business organizations throughout the state to testify in support of legislation to address this issue and recently sent a letter to legislators urging action. See that letter below.

Lawmakers need to hear from business leaders on this key issue. Use GLI’s Action Alert tool to send a quick message to legislators in Frankfort.

Chairman McDaniel and Chairman Petrie:

Thank you both for your service to the Commonwealth and leadership in overseeing Kentucky’s fiscal policy through these difficult and uncertain times. Employers throughout the Greater Louisville region can certainly identify with the unique challenges and difficult decisions that come with budgeting and revenue forecasting during a global pandemic.

Many regional employers and small businesses in Greater Louisville have expressed concerns about the Kentucky Department of Revenue’s decision not to take a “same as federal” position regarding the deductibility of expenses that were paid using proceeds from a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan. Even more troubling, we fear that many other businesses may be unaware of this issue today and how it will negatively impact their state income tax liability.  Unless the General Assembly acts now, this decision will increase the state tax burden for Kentucky businesses at a time when many employers continue to struggle. 

As the General Assembly considers the state budget and any potential revenue adjustments in the current legislative session, Greater Louisville Inc. (“GLI”) encourages lawmakers to address this issue and pass legislation specifying that expenses paid with forgiven PPP loans can be deducted for Kentucky income tax purposes.  GLI and many other business organizations in Kentucky successfully advocated for the U.S. Congress to address these issues in December’s year-end appropriations and stimulus package, which clarified that these expenses may be deducted at the federal level.  Adopting the federal position in Kentucky would align with the pro-business and pro-growth tax policies that the Commonwealth has actively pursued in recent years. More important, it would protect Kentucky businesses from a tax increase and help support the labor force at a time of great economic vulnerability.

We know that other states have already taken action to address this issue.  For example, Indiana – a state like Kentucky that has a policy of static conformity – has indicated that it intends to allow the deductibility of expenses paid for with forgiven PPP loans. Specifically, Indiana’s Department of Revenue takes the position in an FAQ that the deduction of the foregoing expenses pursuant to the December relief package “is not located within IRC and thus Indiana’s position is that the deductibility would flow through without recoupling to the current IRC. Expenses paid for with the PPP loan will be fully deductible by the business.”

Our hope is that the General Assembly will exercise its authority to provide a similar level of clarity and relief for the Kentucky business community.