One of the most persistent issues facing the Commonwealth is that of poverty. Many questions have been raised from the work of the Kentucky Poverty Task Force: how do we acknowledge and recognize poverty as it manifests itself in different communities across the state; what safeguards are in place to help Kentucky families break the cycle of poverty; and how do we realize the policy decisions needed to adequately respond to the many ways poverty impacts each of us.
Speaker Greg Stumbo and House Leadership understood the need for an in-depth study of poverty in the Commonwealth. I was honored to be asked to serve on this important task force, which included 25 members of the House. We studied, reviewed data and information, and heard testimony throughout the summer and fall on five (5) key areas of impact. Our purpose was to examine national and regional efforts -- current and emerging -- which might be effective in fighting poverty in Kentucky. The task force was also to report on recommendations for legislative actions. We met four (4) times in the 2009 Interim to gather information and formulate recommendations.
The key areas of impact we examined included (1) an overview of poverty in the state; defining it and putting it in a national context. We also made several policy recommendations; (2) a look at children in poverty in the state, and programs that are available to these children; we heard from a number of offices and agencies providing services to this vulnerable population; (3) financial literacy and bank financing along with available programs and policy recommendations in these areas; (4) transportation issues in both rural and urban communities and issues related to access to transportation in these areas; and finally (5) addressing the issue of homelessness in the Commonwealth and the related mental health issues accompanying this population; and having a special emphasis on the homeless veteran population in the state.
Please see a copy of our work at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/lrcpubs/rm504.pdf
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