House Bill 5 would cost Kentucky more than $1 billion over ten years Skip to content

House Bill 5 would cost Kentucky more than $1 billion over ten years

The bill passed the House even though there was no financial impact statement. Turns out HB 5 is hella expensive.

2 min read
Photo by Jp Valery / Unsplash

Via press release from the KY Center for Economic Policy

As the Kentucky Senate considers House Bill (HB) 5, legislation containing the most sweeping expansion of the state’s criminal statutes in decades, the bill still lacks a comprehensive corrections impact statement despite passing the House in early February. As a result, citizens and lawmakers cannot know the full projected cost of this expensive and harmful legislation.

With the help of both publicly available data and data obtained through an open records request, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KyPolicy) can now provide at least a partial projection of the bill’s immense cost. If HB 5 becomes law, it would cost Kentucky more than $1 billion over a decade, and that’s only for the provisions of the bill on which data was available.

“House Bill 5 is a harmful bill that would greatly increase incarceration in Kentucky, which comes with an enormous human and financial cost,” said Pam Thomas, senior fellow with KyPolicy. “HB 5 would cost more than $1 billion over a decade primarily due to the numerous provisions requiring more people to serve longer sentences. That’s money that could instead be used to invest in approaches that actually make communities safer.”

Among the most expensive changes proposed in HB 5 are amendments to the statutory definition of “violent offender” — changes that were made in a last-minute floor amendment filed by the bill sponsor the day before it was voted on by the entire House. These amendments have therefore not yet received much public attention.

By adding more offenses and lengthening the sentences that those included under that statute must serve, the proposed changes in the definition of “violent offender” will cost the state over $800 million in the next decade. Other enhanced penalties would add hundreds of millions of dollars more to the state costs.

Not included in the billion dollar total are the likely cost increases associated with serving an older population due to lengthened sentences and the inevitable construction or expansion of jails and prisons to accommodate the influx of new people serving longer sentences into our already overtaxed correctional system.

Lastly, HB 5 would drastically increase costs to local government by worsening jail overcrowding.


You can read the entire analysis at the KCEP web site.

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