Opinion – Dave Adkisson: Bill would make Kentucky more competitive – The Lane Report

By Dave Adkisson
Kentuckians should support Local Investments for Transformation

(Feb. 24, 2015) — The global competition for talent is fierce. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is committed to improving the commonwealth to attract top talent. One way to do that is to give local communities tools to invest for their future opportunities and growth.

Dave Adkisson

Over the past several years, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and over 45 other civic, government, economic development, and other business organizations have been championing an initiative called Local Investments for Transformation (LIFT) or Local Option. This would bring Kentucky in line with some 37 other states that allow for greater local control when it comes to investments.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover are leading a bipartisan effort to enact this important legislation. There is growing bipartisan support for LIFT in Frankfort, which was evident when the House voted to pass the bill.

Very simply, LIFT would allow citizens to invest in specific hometown capital projects. It would give voters a say on whether they want to pay for new community infrastructure and economic development. It would be the right to vote—up or down—on those projects and their costs via referendum. If the voters say “yea”, the project moves forward. A temporary local sales tax of no more than one percent would be instituted, and then would expire once the project and its costs are paid for. If local voters say “nay”, the project and the levy does not happen.

Currently, assistance at the federal and state level to local communities is dwindling. Local communities are increasingly on their own, which makes this tool even more relevant.

Whether it’s an expanded convention center in Northern Kentucky, a fiber optic expansion in Franklin, or rebuilding a structurally deficient dam in Ohio and Muhlenberg counties, there are no shortage of potential projects around the commonwealth.

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.

Voters in Oklahoma City used the local option to fund a much-needed overhaul of their downtown. Where that community was once the butt of jokes, it now is an attractive destination for new companies.  Voters in the smaller community New Ellenton, S.C., population 2,059, decided on crucial sewage improvements and built a community center. Both communities saw the need, and ultimately approved and funded the projects. That’s something voters in Kentucky communities cannot do at the moment.

The chamber is firmly behind this effort and we are urging the Kentucky Senate to follow the lead of the state House and give citizens of the commonwealth the chance to decide for themselves on the local option.

I encourage you to phone your state Senator in Frankfort at 1 (800) 372-7181 and let them know that you support LIFT and the local option because it will help Kentucky improve quality of life and become a stronger magnet for top talent.

Dave Adkisson is President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

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