Kentucky House Leaders Get Behind Local Sales Tax Option – WEKU

By Stu Johnson
Source: WEKU

Kentucky House leaders are joining the mayors of the state’s two largest cities in lobbying for a local sales tax option.  The initiative will be outlined in House bill One that will be before lawmakers this February.

The proposal is characterized as a way for local citizens to have a say in how designated tax funds are spent.  If the bill is adopted by the legislature, and then statewide by voters, local governments could put up to a one percent sales tax before their citizens.

In some 37 other states, the approach has been used to pay for specific projects and then the tax ends.  Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says it’s not suitable for one major proposed community project.  “This legislation is not designed to stimulate Rupp Arena.  The plans for Rupp Arena have been suspended until the right time,” said Gray.

Details about the latest lobbying effort came during a news conference in the House chamber today.  Mack Brown of Louisville’s Brown Forman distillery came to Frankfort to support the local tax option.  “There’s just a shortage of money coming from Frankfort to communities and communities still have needs.  So, it allows the people to decide what they want to take care of and how to do it,” said Brown.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says it could allow state funds to be spent on other pressing needs.  But, he says it wouldn’t mean an end to state-funded local projects.  “No, because I don’t envision that all local communities would adopt this particular proposal but, it’s obviously gonna be up the will of the future members of these chambers to decide that,” said Stumbo.

Stumbo expects as many as 30 co-sponsors of the bill in his chamber. ​

What People Are Saying

  • “Putting the local-tax amendment on the November 2014 statewide ballot is a no-brainer. If local people want to levy local taxes on themselves, they should be able to.”

    Al Cross, Courier-Journal columnist
  • Jeff-Bringardner-headshot-only“This is a way to keep dollars in the area, to come up with a diverse slate of projects that sync up with the long-term plans of the community and get voted on by the people”

    Jeff Bringardner, President, Humana Kentucky
  • BillLamb“If Louisville could adopt a 1% Local Option Tax, it would impose a minimal burden, but would raise over 90 million dollars a year.”

    Bill Lamb, President and General Manager for WDRB and WNYO
  • Bill Samuels Bellarmine Portrait“Local option makes all the sense in the world. Offering citizens the opportunity to vote on investing in their community is how our country ought to operate.”

    Bill Samuels, Chairman, Emeritus Makers Mark
  • …a new way for communities to see the projects they want and need go from the drawing board to reality — and to do it for themselves.

    Jim Host, founder of Host Communications and former State Commerce Secretary
  • LIFT is a tried-and-true tool that allows for more voter involvement in the process.  Voters, not politicians, would help determine big picture, visionary projects that could improve quality of life.

    Dave Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • …an idea whose time has come, and could be a crucial economic development tool which will help our local communities build a better future, and the new jobs and businesses we need.

    Hal Goode, President and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Economic Development
  • In our opinion, Kentucky voters should be allowed to vote on the local option sales tax because it could fund public facilities without increasing property taxes.

    Morehead News
  • It will allow communities to plan and pay for improvements to enhance civic and economic life without going hat in hand each budget session to Frankfort.

    Lexington Herald-Leader
  • The beauty of it is that local voters have the say-so as to its enactment, and they have a sense that they are getting what they pay for.

    Princeton Times-Leader