Source: Central Kentucky News
One of many bills that may die on the vine during the current legislative session is a proposed constitutional amendment paving the way for Kentucky communities to vote on enacting a local option sales tax.
We think it should pass and voters should decide whether they want it to be state law.
Proponents of the measure refer to it as LIFT. (Local Investments for Transformation), while those against it didn’t have to work very hard at all for their own on the nose acronym: LOST (local option sales tax). The bill would place the amendment on the ballot across Kentucky in 2016, and, if it passes, residents in every county could vote on a temporary tax of up to 1 percent to fund specific projects.
House Bill 1 passed and appeared to have some support in the Senate, including from President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. Questions have arisen, though, about companion legislation outlining the particulars of how a tax would be approved and implemented. The chairman of the committee where the bill now resides has been dragging his feet on even bringing it up for discussion.
The bill should get a hearing in the State and Local Government Committee, see the light of day on the Senate floor and, we believe, be passed so the voters can weigh in.
Every year local governments are asked to shoulder more of the burden for vital improvements with a limited, often shrinking, pool of tax dollars. Even with an improving economy, we don’t expect this to change dramatically in years to come, and state and federal dollars also will likely continue to dwindle. Look no further than the current situation with the state’s road fund for evidence.
This is a chance to allow cities and counties to choose what projects are necessary and worthy, then pursue them without assuming massive debts or disrupting the rest of their budget. While it’s a fun exercise to make a pie-in-the-sky wish list for how this might be implemented, we hope and fully expect area counties won’t frivolously go to the ballot box.
If they do, residents can tell them what they think loud and clear.
We do share concerns with many of our local legislators about the tax unfairly impacting people who cannot vote for or against it when they travel to places like Lexington and Louisville that attract droves of out-of-town shoppers — mayors Jim Gray and Greg Fischer were the major boosters for the bill. However, the amendment would offer the same opportunity for communities across the state to capitalize on transient customer cash.
Overall, we believe giving voters the chance to judge the merits of the concept, and future projects, is a good thing. Let the people decide whether the idea achieves LIFT off or the cause is LOST.