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Discussing the Rise in Gas Prices and Inflation

Renee Shaw and her guests discuss the rise in gas prices and inflation during 2021-22. Guests include: Michael W. Clark, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics; Kenya Stump, executive director, Kentucky Office of Energy Policy; and Jason Bailey, executive director, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.
Season 29 Episode 19 Length 56:34 Premiere: 05/23/22

About

Kentucky Tonight

KET’s Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, brings together an expert panel for in-depth analysis of major issues facing the Commonwealth.

This weekly program features comprehensive discussions with lawmakers, stakeholders and policy leaders that are moderated by award-winning journalist Renee Shaw.

For nearly three decades, Kentucky Tonight has been a source for complete and balanced coverage of the most urgent and important public affairs developments in the state of Kentucky.

Often aired live, viewers are encouraged to participate by submitting questions in real-time via email, Twitter or KET’s online form. Viewers with questions and comments may send an email to kytonight@ket.org or use the contact form. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 800-494-7605.

After the broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on KET.org and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonight was awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

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Renee Shaw is the Director of Public Affairs and Moderator at KET, currently serving as host of KET’s weeknight public affairs program Kentucky Edition, the signature public policy discussion series Kentucky Tonight, the weekly interview series Connections, Election coverage and KET Forums.

Since 2001, Renee has been the producing force behind KET’s legislative coverage that has been recognized by the Kentucky Associated Press and the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Under her leadership, KET has expanded its portfolio of public affairs content to include a daily news and information program, Kentucky Supreme Court coverage, townhall-style forums, and multi-platform program initiatives around issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health.  

Renee has also earned top awards from the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), with three regional Emmy awards. In 2023, she was inducted into the Silver Circle of the NATAS, one of the industry’s highest honors recognizing television professionals with distinguished service in broadcast journalism for 25 years or more.  

Already an inductee into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame (2017), Renee expands her hall of fame status with induction into Western Kentucky University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in November of 2023.  

In February of 2023, Renee graced the front cover of Kentucky Living magazine with a centerfold story on her 25 years of service at KET and even longer commitment to public media journalism. 

In addition to honors from various educational, civic, and community organizations, Renee has earned top honors from the Associated Press and has twice been recognized by Mental Health America for her years-long dedication to examining issues of mental health and opioid addiction.  

In 2022, she was honored with Women Leading Kentucky’s Governor Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award recognizing her trailblazing path and inspiring dedication to elevating important issues across Kentucky.   

In 2018, she co-produced and moderated a 6-part series on youth mental health that was awarded first place in educational content by NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association. 

She has been honored by the AKA Beta Gamma Omega Chapter with a Coretta Scott King Spirit of Ivy Award; earned the state media award from the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2019; named a Charles W. Anderson Laureate by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2019 honoring her significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues; and was recognized as a “Kentucky Trailblazer” by the University of Kentucky Martin School of Public Policy and Administration during the Wendell H. Ford Lecture Series in 2019. That same year, Shaw was named by The Kentucky Gazette’s inaugural recognition of the 50 most notable women in Kentucky politics and government.  

Renee was bestowed the 2021 Berea College Service Award and was named “Unapologetic Woman of the Year” in 2021 by the Community Action Council.   

In 2015, she received the Green Dot Award for her coverage of domestic violence, sexual assault & human trafficking. In 2014, Renee was awarded the Anthony Lewis Media Award from the KY Department of Public Advocacy for her work on criminal justice reform. Two Kentucky governors, Republican Ernie Fletcher and Democrat Andy Beshear, have commissioned Renee as a Kentucky Colonel for noteworthy accomplishments and service to community, state, and nation.  

A former adjunct media writing professor at Georgetown College, Renee traveled to Cambodia in 2003 to help train emerging journalists on reporting on critical health issues as part of an exchange program at Western Kentucky University. And, she has enterprised stories for national media outlets, the PBS NewsHour and Public News Service.  

Shaw is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Kentucky, a board member of CASA of Lexington, and a longtime member of the Frankfort/Lexington Chapter of The Links Incorporated, an international, not-for-profit organization of women of color committed to volunteer service. She has served on the boards of the Kentucky Historical Society, Lexington Minority Business Expo, and the Board of Governors for the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 

Host Renee Shaw smiling in a green dress with a KET set behind her.

Economists Examine the Causes Behind Price Increases That Are Burdening Kentuckians

With inflation hitting record highs, it’s hard to find good news when it comes to the cost of consumer goods these days.

Economists blame a perfect storm of factors that have led to higher costs for nearly everything from cars to food to gasoline. They point to COVID closures, global supply chain disruptions, federal pandemic relief, international trade policies, and the war in Ukraine.

“We just have an economy that has become increasingly monopolized, increasingly globalized and it puts us in a difficult situation when a crisis reshuffles demand, reshuffles supply,” says Jason Bailey, executive director, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

Because the causes are multifaceted and interconnected, experts say it’s hard to find a solution that can provide real relief for consumers in the short term. Even something as mundane as gas prices are beyond the reach of policymakers, according to Somerset Community College economics professor Chris Phillips.

“The president doesn’t have a button that says ‘lower gas,’” he says. “It’s very difficult if not impossible for any politician of any stripe to make an immediate change.”

Lower Gas Prices Likely Months Away

AAA puts the current average gas price nationwide at about $4.60 a gallon. A year ago, it was $3.03.

Kenya Stump, executive director, Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, says low prices in 2020 and 2021 were a function of unusually low demand during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. She says when businesses reopened and the economy surged, production did not keep up. Then Russia invaded Ukraine, throwing another monkey wrench into fuel markets. That caused gas prices to jump by $1 a gallon.

The good news for Kentuckians, according to Stump, is that gas prices in the state are lower than the national average at about $4.20 a gallon. She says prices will come down eventually. Next year, she says they should be back under $4 a gallon, assuming no additional shocks to global markets. Until then, she expects gas to remain expensive during the important summer travel season, even with more output from oil producers.

“It takes a while for production increases to make their way through the system,” says Stump. “It’s not an instantaneous switch that we turn on.”

Price is only part of the cost equation, though. Stump says people can reduce consumption as a way to save money, either by driving less or by boosting fuel efficiency.

What likely won’t have any substantial, long-term impact on prices is suspending gasoline taxes.

“It’s kind of a gimmick, a lot of states have done it, but it’s not necessarily the best way to deal with the problem,” says Bailey.

The state gas tax is 26 cents a gallon, which goes to road construction and maintenance in the commonwealth. University of Kentucky economist Kenneth Troske says suspending the tax could help consumers some, but it could also be easily offset by another jump in overall gas prices.

“The solution for the long run is trying to get more supply and trying not to have disruptions in the market like we’ve seen,” says Troske. “You’d also like not to have an OPEC cartel controlling the supply of oil.”

Other Factors Driving Inflation

Gas and diesel prices play into the costs of other consumer goods. Economists say inflation is also being driven by production and supply chain disruptions accompanied by a surge in demand as Americans spent their federal COVID relief checks and as wages have increased for many. During the pandemic, consumers also shifted from spending on services to buying more goods. While people dislike higher prices, UK Economist Michael Clark they aren’t all bad.

“Higher prices are the solution to a lot of these supply chain issues,” says Clark. “That higher price provides that incentive for businesses to produce more, which helps… to get these products out there.”

Federal policies also play into price increases. For example, Troske says tariffs implemented by former President Donald Trump are impacting imports of baby formula and contributing to a shortage of that product. Clark says President Joe Biden’s emphasis on renewable energy, while a good strategy for the planet in the long term, could exacerbate current short-term petroleum shortages. Bailey says deregulation of the trucking industry has pushed drivers’ wages lower, which has created a shortage of drivers, further delaying the delivery of goods to retailers.

Then there’s the COVID relief checks sent to Americans by the Trump and Biden Administrations. Spending that money helped keep families and businesses afloat during very challenging times, but also contributed to inflation because demand for goods outpaced available supplies.

“We did not have a depression, and that’s a great thing,” says Troske, “but, boy, we’re paying the price for that now.”

Another question mark has been the response from the Federal Reserve. The central bank has faced a barrage of criticism by not reacting swiftly enough to stem the inflationary tide. The Fed can raise interest rates to cool the economy and encourage people to save more money, which can lead to lower prices.

“Based on the behavior of the Fed in the past, we should have interest rates at 11 percent right now,” says Troske.

But finding the exact right amount of increase is tricky. Raise interest rates too little or too slowly, and inflation could spiral out of control. Raise rates too aggressively, and the economy could grind to a halt. Central bank officials have argued that inflation would go down on its own as supplies of goods rebound. Yet they have also signaled they could raise the interest rate in the months ahead by an average of 2 percent or more.

“The Fed is bringing a sledgehammer to the situation and it’s kind of easy to break things when you do that,” says Bailey.

“The concern is can they make those adjustments just right, or do they dampen demand too much so that we actually see both high prices and… employment start to decline,” says Clark.

Phillips says overall economic growth and job creation is fastest that it’s been in 40 years. Gov. Andy Beshear recently announced the unemployment rate in Kentucky is at its lowest point ever at 3.9 percent. At the same time, employers around the state and nation are struggling to fill open jobs.

“With about 6 million unemployed and with the all opportunities out there, I keep wondering what are people waiting for?” says Phillips. “You can find a job, it’s just maybe not the job.”

To fill all those open jobs, Phillips says lawmakers should make legal immigration to the U.S easier.

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Season 29 Episodes

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Kentucky's Juvenile Justice System

S29 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/23/23

Legislation Introduced in the 2023 General Assembly

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National Politics

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2022 Election Preview

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Inflation and the Economy

S29 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/31/22

Constitutional Amendments 1 & 2

S29 E37 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 10/24/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part Two

S29 E36 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 10/17/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part One

S29 E35 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/10/22

U.S. Senate Candidate Charles Booker

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COVID-19, Monkeypox and Influenza

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Child Care in Kentucky

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School Safety: Debating State Policies

S29 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/01/22

Work, Wages and Welfare

S29 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/25/22

50 Years of Title IX

S29 E26 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/18/22

The Impact of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

S29 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/11/22

Kentucky's Ban on Abortion

S29 E23 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/27/22

Discussing New Developments in the COVID-19 Pandemic

S29 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/20/22

Reducing Opioid Addiction Rates in Kentucky

S29 E21 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 06/13/22

Mass Shootings and Gun Laws

S29 E20 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/06/22

Discussing the Rise in Gas Prices and Inflation

S29 E19 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/23/22

Previewing Kentucky's 2022 Primary Election

S29 E18 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/16/22

Third Congressional District Democratic Primary

S29 E17 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/09/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part Two

S29 E16 Length 58:33 Premiere Date 05/02/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part One

S29 E15 Length 58:40 Premiere Date 04/25/22

Lawmakers Review the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 04/18/22

Recap of the 2022 Legislative Session

S29 E13 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/11/22

Public Assistance and Jobless Benefits

S29 E12 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/28/22

Abortion Legislation in the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E11 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 03/21/22

State Budget, Taxes, and Other 2022 General Assembly Topics

S29 E10 Length 57:42 Premiere Date 03/14/22

Critical Race Theory and Approaches to Teaching History

S29 E9 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/28/22

2022 Legislative Session at the Midpoint

S29 E8 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/21/22

Name, Image and Likeness Compensation

S29 E7 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/14/22

Child Abuse and Neglect

S29 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/07/22

Debating School Choice in Kentucky

S29 E5 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 02/01/22

Debating Provisions in the Proposed State Budget

S29 E4 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/24/22

Redistricting, State Budget, and Other Legislative Issues

S29 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/10/22

Discussing Legislative Goals for the 2022 General Assembly

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S29 E1 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 12/06/21

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Renee Shaw and guests discuss early childhood education. Scheduled guests: State Senator Danny Carroll (R-Benton), chair of the Senate Families and Children Committee and sponsor of the Horizons Act, SB 203, that addresses the child-care industry needs in Kentucky; State Senator Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-Louisville), member of the Senate Families and Children Committee; Sarah Vanover, Ed.D., author of America's Child-Care Crisis: Rethinking an Essential Business, and policy and research director for Kentucky Youth Advocates; Kate Shanks, vice president of public affairs at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Brigitte Blom, president & CEO of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence; and Andrew McNeill, president of Kentucky Forum for Rights, Economics & Education (KYFREE). A 2024 KET production.

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Early Childhood Education - S30 E42

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