Source: Lexington Herald-Leader
This commentary is signed by Monty L. Boyd, CEO, Whayne Supply; Mac Brown, vice president of, Brown-Forman; Stephen C. Gault, founder, Stephen C. Gault Co.; C. Edward Glasscock, chairman, Frost, Brown & Todd; Jonathan D. Goldberg, managing partner, Goldberg Simpson; Jim Host, founder of Host Communications and former Kentucky commerce secretary; Bill Samuels, chairman emeritus, Makers Mark; and Kerry Stemler, CEO, KM Stemler Company.
It’s time to move Kentucky forward.
We are encouraged that two important leaders from both sides of the aisle, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, are doing just that though their leadership of a very important initiative to allow for greater control to be returned to local communities and citizens.
The two leaders recently came together in Frankfort to announce that Local Investments for Transformation (LIFT) Kentucky will be the top priority, House Bill 1, in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.
The initiative has the broad support of over 42 groups from across the commonwealth, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, numerous local chambers of commerce from every corner of the commonwealth, the Kentucky Association of Counties,and the Kentucky League of Cities. The full list of supporting organizations can be found on LIFTKentucky.com.
LIFT, also known as the local option, is very simply about the right to vote. It would allow voters to decide whether they want to pay for new community projects by giving them the right to vote — up or down — on those projects and their costs. If the voters say yes, the project goes ahead.
If voters say no, the project doesn’t move forward.
Thirty-seven other states allow local citizens to vote for or against projects, paid for by a temporary local-option sales tax — but in Kentucky, we don’t have that option.
Recent statewide polls show that more than 60 percent of Kentuckians favor this local approach.
Stumbo and Hoover realize that Kentucky citizens should have the right to decide if they want to invest in their communities in this way. The General Assembly should follow their bipartisan lead and allow this question to be put to the voters.
Communities across the commonwealth, both urban and rural, could use this economic development tool.
For example, Princeton has identified the need to build a firehouse as a critical priority. Leaders in Marion County have talked about the need for a convention facility to leverage the bourbon boom. Pulaski County has a grand vision to attract visitors with an amphitheater set in the area’s natural beauty.
All of these are just ideas — using LIFT it is the voters who will ultimately decide.
And, importantly, any local-option sales tax would be capped at 1 percent and there is a legal requirement for the tax to end once the project is completed.
Bipartisan cooperation can work for the commonwealth. Stumbo and Hoover are showing true leadership by urging their colleagues to allow voters to have a say.