OPINION: ‘The Money Is There’: Kentucky Together Coalition Calls on Lawmakers to Pass a Budget that Delivers


Op-Ed Contributor: Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

FRANKFORT, KY - In a press conference Tuesday, a coalition of Kentucky organizations called on state lawmakers to take advantage of billions of available dollars to pass a budget that delivers for the people of Kentucky. 

Members of Kentucky Together, which includes dozens of labor, health, education and community organizations (the full list is available below), gathered in the Capitol Annex on the first day of the 2024 legislative session and pointed to the unique moment Kentucky finds itself in. 

“Years of inadequate budgets that fail to prioritize the people of Kentucky have left the commonwealth with many unmet needs,” said Natalie Cunningham, Outreach Director for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. “The good news is we have the money to begin meeting these needs.”

Over the past several years, Kentucky lawmakers have stockpiled $3.7 billion in the Budget Reserve Trust Fund, which is commonly called the rainy day fund. That’s more than double what’s needed to protect against future economic downturns. Billions more will be added to those idle reserves over the next few years unless they are directed to meet more of  Kentuckians’ pressing needs.

Wesley Bryant, a Letcher County resident whose home was in the path of 2022’s devastating eastern Kentucky floods, highlighted some of those needs. “There are about 3,000 people who are homeless due to the floods,” said Bryant, whose family of seven has not been able to return to their home since the flooding. “And I’ve got a question: Are we forgotten about? Are we lost in the shuffle? Or are we just a new statistic?”

“Lawmakers could change the lives of my family and the rest of eastern Kentucky by using state dollars to finally help those of us who were impacted by the floods,” he said. “We need funding for housing recovery and mental health, and we still desperately need supplies.”

Andrea Zang, a tenant organizer in Lexington, said renters in her community and across the commonwealth face immense difficulties when trying to find affordable and safe housing. The state should step in and help, she said.

“We need meaningful investment from Kentucky into affordable housing,” Zang said. “The state government has a huge surplus this year. Several hundred million dollars of that surplus should go straight to affordable housing.”

Other issues highlighted during the press conference included the need for mental health supports in schools, the need for a cost of living raise for state retirees and the need to increase funding for public education. The coalition’s website, KentuckyTogether.org, includes suggestions for many other ways the state budget can deliver for the people.

Watch Tuesday’s press conference in its entirety at Facebook.com/KyPolicy

About Kentucky Together

To make a better Kentucky, we must invest in people, communities and our economy through vital public services. Kentucky Together is a coalition of labor, health, education and community organizations that believes the path to prosperity is abundance, not austerity.


Advocacy Action Network

Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center


Center for Accessible Living

Children, Inc

Community Action Council

Fahe Inc.

Fairness Campaign

Forward Kentucky

Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky

Jefferson County Teachers Association

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

Kentucky Association of School Superintendents

Kentucky Association of Transportation Engineers

Kentucky Association of School Councils

Kentucky Council of Churches


Kentucky Conservation Committee

Kentucky Education Association

Kentucky Environmental Foundation

Kentucky Equal Justice Center

Kentucky Government Retirees

Kentucky Mental Health Coalition

Kentucky Public Retirees

Kentucky Retired Teachers Association

Kentucky State AFL-CIO

Kentucky Sustainable Business Council

Kentucky Transportation Employees’ Association

Kentucky Voices for Health

Kentucky’s Voice for Early Childhood

Mountain Association

National Association of Social Workers — Kentucky

National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU

Operation Turnout

Owensboro NAACP Branch 3107

Progress Kentucky

The Women’s Network

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227

Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

433 Chestnut Street, Berea, KY 40403

859-756-4605  |  Information and inquiries: 

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization conducting research, analysis and education on important policy issues facing the Commonwealth. For more information, please visit KyPolicy’s website at  www.kypolicy.org.


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