Leaky Bucket gaining national attention as more states experience budget troubles


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The Leaky Bucket, a report on state government spending published by the Kentucky Chamber in 2009, has recently received national attention as a reaction to state government shortfalls not only in Kentucky, but also in states like Wisconsin and California.

Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson first highlighted the report in an interview with Gwen Ifill on PBS NewsHour in February when he appeared on the nightly news program to discuss President Barack Obama’s address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

During a recent U.S. Chamber panel discussion in Orlando, Fla., Adkisson made a presentation on how other states can use The Leaky Bucket as a template when addressing their own budget deficits.

“After my presentation, the other panelists said every state needs a Leaky Bucket.  Everyone wanted a copy. I brought five; needed 50,” said Adkisson. “It created a lot of buzz as a template for other states to deal with budget issues.”

Adkisson was later asked to discuss The Leaky Bucket for an upcoming piece in The Economist, a weekly publication focusing on international politics and business news and opinion. He explained that the project began as a way to change the dialogue from “tax reform” to “spending reform” in Kentucky.

“It was the Chamber’s hope that a change in dialogue would encourage lawmakers to enact legislation that would lead to more responsible spending in the areas of corrections, public employee health benefits and Medicaid, ultimately leaving more tax dollars available for education.”

Ultimately, Adkisson told The Economist, the message resonated with business leaders and legislators of both parties. “It helped us convey a message to legislators that was more compelling than a typical fiscal note on a bill.”

The Pew Center on the States, a national think tank and resource center for state policy makers, continues to refer to The Leaky Bucket as a model for other states dealing with deficits.

The Chamber will inform its members when the piece has been published in The Economist. A progress report on The Leaky Bucket is planned to be released this summer.

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