Contemporary Policy Issues
Kentucky's state and local governments must daily make choices in many fields--education, highways, police, water pollution, health care, economic development, hazardous waste, and domestic violence. Like other states, Kentucky now deals with more diverse and complex issues of government policy than it did a generation ago. As noted in chapter 11, for example, Medicaid and corrections now account for large portions of the state's budget, matters which were peripheral as few as twenty years ago. Medicaid is discussed in chapters 1, 3, 11, and 15; and like other states, Kentucky is now exploring new approaches to deterring crime and redefining corrections policy: "back-door" initiatives include electronic house arrest and vocational programs; "front-door" approaches include creative sentencing; and "capacity enhancement" efforts include private prisons (or "prisons for profit").1
The literature of political science debates the reasons that particular policy choices are made. Some observers argue that public policy is the direct outcome of certain socioeconomic forces.2 According to them, Kentucky's increased spending and services (and their direction) are the automatic byproduct of the state's increased income, urbanization, and industrialization. Other scholars insist that while the state's economic base provides the resources and creates the needs from which policy is fashioned, factors such as voter participation, electoral competition, interest-group strength, legislative professionalism, and gubernatorial leadership have powerful and independent mediating effects between the economic environment and policy choices.3 Other political scientists have shown that broad public opinion directly influences legislative and administrative actions, reviving the idea that old-fashioned "politics" matters in the development of policy.4 Another
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Publication information: Book title: Kentucky Politics & Government:Do We Stand United?. Contributors: Penny M. Miller - Author. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press. Place of publication: Lincoln, NE. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 247.
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