The rapid rise in housing prices that occurred between 1990 and 2006 led many communities, including Lexington, Kentucky, to become concerned about whether individuals who hold “typical” jobs—such as teachers and police officers—could continue to live in the communities where they worked. Unfortunately, given the lack of recent detailed studies examining the affordability of housing in Fayette County (which contains Lexington), it is hard to know whether concerns about affordable housing are justified. In response to this lack of information, the Home Builders Association of Lexington and the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors (LBAR) requested that the Center for Business and Economic Researcher (CBER) at the University of Kentucky examine the issue of housing affordability in Fayette County. This report contains the results of our investigation.
The passage of the Kentucky Educational Reform Act (KERA) in 1990 had a dramatic impact on the funding of primary and secondary education in the state. The amount of money spent on education increased signiﬁcantly with the passage of KERA with districts in rural areas of the state experiencing the largest growth in spending (Hoyt, 1999). This has led to a decline in the disparity between rural and urban districts in education spending. However, despite the increase in educational spending, Kentucky still lags behind the typical state in the U.S. in spending per student (Troske, 2008).
Although several studies examine the impact that KERA had on the level of spending, very little work has been done on the impact of KERA and on how the increase in education money is being spent. What evidence there is suggests that KERA may have impacted the allocation of education dollars in Kentucky. In 1996 Kentucky had the lowest ratio of teachers relative to total public school staff of any state in the country, so Kentucky appears to be spending a much larger share of its educational budget on administrative staff compared to other states (Hoyt, 1999). In addition, the share of money spent on teachers appears to have increased after KERA, particularly in rural areas which tend to receive a larger portion of their funding from the state (Hoyt, 1999). In Kentucky state dollars make up a much larger share of a district’s educational budget than in other states, and this lack of control over funding could lead to less efﬁcient uses of resources.
Kentucky has consistently been one of the poorest states in the country between 1939 and the present. On top of this already low level of income, Kentucky has experienced fairly slow growth in output in recent years. Between 1997 and 2004, Kentucky had an average annual growth in real gross state product (GSP) of 1.6 percent, ranking 43 rd in terms of growth in GSP relative to the rest of the states.
In contrast to Kentucky’s relatively stagnant growth, many of Kentucky’s neighbors, especially to the south, have experienced relatively rapid growth in average earnings in recent years. In 1969, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee all had levels of average earnings that were 77-82 percent of the average earnings in the U.S., while Alabama had average earnings that were approximately 70 percent of the national average. By 2004, Kentucky’s average earnings remained at approximately 80 percent of the national average while average earnings in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee had grown to 90 percent of the national average, and average earnings in Alabama had grown to over 85 percent of the national average. In other words, while relative average earnings in Kentucky has been flat for the past forty years, average earnings in a number of southern states similar to Kentucky have experienced fairly rapid relative growth since 1969.
In this report, we examine whether there are identifiable factors that can explain why Kentucky remains mired at the bottom of the income distribution. We start by first estimating a standard growth regression using data from all the states in the continental U.S. to examine what factors are most important in explaining why some states have grown faster. For this part of the report, we draw on data from a number of sources covering the period from 1969 to 2004. Next we compare the growth of these factors in Kentucky with the growth of these factors in our comparison states: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. This comparison will allow us to identify which of these factors explain why these other states have grown faster than Kentucky. Finally, we examine various policies in our comparison states to see if we can identify specific policies that can explain why a given state experienced differential growth in one of these factors.
The offering of tax and other location-based incentives to firms considering locating operations in a state, as well as firms with existing operations, has become a common practice of both state and local governments in the past thirty years. However, these programs are not without their critics. Some of the concerns about these programs arise from the lack of strong evidence, either supportive or critical of these programs. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development contracted with the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) to produce a series of reports examining the effectiveness of tax incentives in Kentucky.
This report presents the results of our nine-month effort to measure the economic value of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), both directly to its students around the state, and indirectly to all residents of Kentucky. We find wide public support for KCTCS, and a willingness to pay for an expansion of its programs. We also find a large variation in the individual returns to community and technical college education, in terms of expected work-life earnings by gender and by region of the state.
The purpose of this study is to inform on the current state of knowledge of the economics profession of the impacts of state and local taxes on property values. Our goal is also to suggest how to interpret some of the findings of this literature as well as to provide some conceptual background to assist in interpreting these findings.