By: Nick Storm
As lawmakers gear up for the 2015 session of the General Assembly, advocates are again calling for an amendment to the Kentucky constitution which would allow small increases to local sales tax which would fund special projects — if voters approve.
Bill Samuels, the Chairman Emeritus of Makers Mark bourbon and board member for LIFT or Local Investments for Transportation, says the initiative could make a big difference in communities around the state.
“Over the last few years we have tried to convince our political friends this is an option our Kentucky citizens need,” Samuels said.
“We’re getting beat up. We can’t compete for the kind of talent we really need to compete for.”
The local option sales tax constitutional amendment would give voters in cities the opportunity to approve up to one percent on the sales tax in order to pay for specific projects. When the projects are finished, that tax increase goes away.
Legislators heard the idea in the 2014 session, but an internal split in House Democratic leadership pushed the legislation to the back burner during the session.
This year, Samuels says lawmakers showed their “maturity” in the fall elections by not letting LIFT become politicized during the election cycle.
“It tells me that philosophically they all know this is good policy,” Samuels said. “Some are a little concerned because they’re afraid some opponent might throw it at them at a later date, but you know eventually it’s are they going to provide leadership to get this done.”
“This ought to be an easy thing. It probably will be easy. The first time you let people chew on it, and that’s what we did last year.”
Samuels, the former chairman of Greater Louisville Inc., said nothing is for certain in Frankfort, but he feels good about the progress that has been made.