The Richmond Register

Local News

January 31, 2014

Beshear putting tax reform ideas on table

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear will discuss his ideas for tax reform with some key lawmakers Monday in hopes of seeing it pass the 2014 session that is nearly one-third complete.

Beshear appointed a Blue Ribbon Tax Commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, which last year offered a lengthy list of recommendations that Abramson said would provide a fairer, simpler tax code that could raise more money for the state budget.

During his budget address two weeks ago before a joint session of the General Assembly, Beshear proposed a tight budget based on current revenue sources. The budget proposal makes deep cuts in some programs in order to boost funding for elementary and secondary education.

At the conclusion of the speech, Beshear said a better alternative would be to increase state revenues through tax reform or expanded gambling and promised to offer proposals on each.

On Friday, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he expects Beshear to meet with legislative leaders some time Monday “about his tax reform proposal,” but Stumbo said he hadn’t seen any details.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he also wants to see the details of Beshear’s proposals, adding he thinks it best those details are shared with lawmakers before being made public so lawmakers can discuss it “without it being played out in the press.”

When asked Friday about next week’s meeting, Beshear’s spokeswoman, Kerri Richardson, said she couldn’t provide any details.

Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, confirmed he’d been asked to meet with the governor Monday.

“But I don’t know what’s in it,” Palmer said. Asked about the prospects for passing tax reform in the 2014 session that is roughly one-third of the way to its maximum 60-day time period, Palmer said such prospects “are probably challenging.”

The commission’s recommendations included lowering some corporate taxes while creating a new individual tax bracket and extending the sales tax to some services. Another recommendation would limit the amount of deductions on retirement income.

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, served on the commission and has long advocated for tax reform. He wasn’t invited to Monday’s meeting. But he’d liked to have seen the governor try to build public support for the idea before the current legislative session.

“I’m discouraged the groundwork hasn’t been laid since the commission made its report over a year ago,” Wayne said. Doing that would provide lawmakers with information about how tax reform and presumably some extra money for the state budget can benefit lawmakers’ individual districts, he said.

Stumbo seemed reluctant to sign on to some of the commission recommendations about lowering corporate taxes.

“I don’t know why you want to give more tax breaks or incentives to companies that are doing well?” Stumbo said. “And it appeared to me that some members who are on that commission have jockeyed for those provisions to help their own businesses.”

In fact, Stumbo said, he’d like a review of existing tax breaks and incentives for business.

“We’ve really incentivized our tax code to the point to where we’re giving away more money than we’re taking in,” Stumbo said. Tax breaks or exemptions have been estimated to leave about $17 billion untapped. Kentucky’s General Fund budget is just under $10 billion a year.

“Some of these things are 20 or 30 years old,” Stumbo said. “They need to be looked at and reviewed again.” And in the future, he’d like to see such incentives include a sunset date.

Republicans in both the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate have said they are interested in tax reform if it helps create jobs or a more friendly business climate but are suspicious of proposals to raise more money.

It’s also an election year with half of the 38 state Senate seats and all 100 House seats on the ballot. Combined with the two parties’ different views of what form tax reform should take, it may be a tough sale for Beshear.

“Tax reform always means someone pays more and someone pays less,” Stumbo said. “The people who pay less don’t call and thank you but the people who pay more sure do call you and raise hell.”

He said the most likely outcome ― given what he’s hearing from fellow lawmakers ― is that neither proposal passes the 2014 session.

But Stumbo said lawmakers have promised Beshear they’ll keep an open mind about both tax reform and expanded gambling.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-24 UKatWaco1.jpg Wildcats encourage Cardinals to work hard in school

    University of Kentucky student athletes Kastine Evans, a guard on the women’s basketball team, and Jon Hood, a guard on the men’s team, stopped by Waco Elementary School on Wednesday to talk about the benefits of working hard in school.

    April 23, 2014 4 Photos

  • Mayor, commissioner pay changed

    The Richmond City Commission approved 5-1 a new pay scale for the mayor and commissioners at a special-called meeting Wednesday morning.

    April 23, 2014

  • 4-24 Lorenzo McWilliams.jpg Harrodsburg to get old Richmond police mobile computers

    Richmond is donating to the city of Harrodsburg eight of 39 old computers formerly used in police cruisers.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-24 HOSAblooddrive.jpg Health science students organize blood drive

    Aside from the gift cards and free snacks, 50 Madison County high school students have other reasons for donating 35 pints of blood Wednesday to the Kentucky Blood Center at Madison Central High School.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Third student charged in dorm room robbery

    A third person, originally thought to be a robbery victim, was charged Wednesday in connection with an armed robbery that occurred March 30 on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus

    April 23, 2014

  • Bucher Family plant sale starts Friday

    The Bucher Family annual plant sale, a yearly tradition in Madison County for 15 years, will kick off Friday morning.

    April 23, 2014

  • 4-23 Gravestone.jpg In search of the last resting place

    At a popular illegal dump site off Bybee Loop in Waco, two marble grave markers were among some items found there by Pat and Ronnie Aldridge, residents who live about 250 yards from the area.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fiscal court awards EMA bids

    Two more bids were awarded at Tuesday’s Madison County Fiscal Court meeting for the emergency operations agency.

    April 22, 2014

  • 4-23 Peter Crowe.jpg Intoxicated man charged with wanton endangerment

    A 27-year-old Richmond man was charged Sunday with second-degree wanton endangerment after he was found intoxicated and walking with several young children in the Keystone Drive area, according to a Richmond police report.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Absentee voting available for May 20 election

    Walk-in absentee voting for the May 20 primary has begun and will continue until May 19, County Clerk Kenny Barger announced Tuesday at the Madison Fiscal Court meeting.

    April 22, 2014

AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results