By Stu Johnson
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.