Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates
LOUISVILLE, KY – With today’s passage by the Kentucky Senate, House Bill 7 now heads to concurrence by the Kentucky House and then to the Governor’s desk for consideration.
We’ve continued to share our appreciation to the bill sponsors, House Speaker David Osborne and Speaker Pro Tem David Meade, for their openness to feedback and efforts to reduce unintended consequences of these reforms to Kentucky’s public benefits. Additionally, we appreciate Senate President Pro Tem David Givens for listening to stakeholder and Committee feedback and bringing forward Senate Floor Amendment 1, which will further reduce any unintended consequences.
However, we remain wary of those unintended consequences – especially on low-income families, young people with a foster care experience, and pregnant women.
The General Assembly must deeply examine the impact of changes to the safety net – food benefits, health care, and other basic needs – will have on too many Kentuckians. They must think about the kids and families still struggling to overcome the ripple effects of the pandemic on their kitchen table economics and employment prospects. Leadership must ask themselves, “Is this how we treat our most vulnerable among us?”
We urge leadership to consider these outstanding questions before this legislation becomes law:
- Is there an updated fiscal note? Will the Cabinet for Health and Family Services need to hire additional staff for implementation?
- Will the community engagement program now required to be developed by CHFS be considered optional, rather than a requirement to maintain Medicaid?
- Are pregnant women and former foster youth exempt from provisions around work requirements and community engagement?
Kentucky will be strongest when all children have their best chance to thrive as we continue to build an equitable pandemic recovery. We call on House leadership and the Governor to consider these questions, recommendations, and the impact of implementation and return on investment as HB 7 progresses through the final steps of the process.
About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at www.kyyouth.org.
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