Beshear pledges to push for tax reform and 'cautiously optimistic' about casinos to bolster revenue

12/17/2013 06:29 PM

Tax reform might not be dead for 2014 after all, Gov. Steve Beshear told reporters Tuesday.

Beshear said he’s working on crafting a tax proposal and will push again to allow casino gambling as ways

“I am determined that we will address it in some manner during the session,” Beshear said. “We’ve had tangible talks ever since the last session.” He cited, for instance, the tax reform task force that Beshear created made several recommendations that legislators incorporated into the deal in March to provide more funding to cover the state’s pension payments.

However, House Speaker Greg Stumbo told Pure Politics last month that “the groundwork” hadn’t been laid for tax reform heading into the session. Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer said earlier this fall that when he spoke with Beshear over lunch in September, the two discussed waiting until 2015 to take up tax reform. Most recently, Thayer said he expects it to be an issue for the next governor.

And Senate President Robert Stivers told Pure Politics Tuesday that he didn’t expect tax reform to be a major issue in 2014 (watch that interview segment on Wednesday’s edition of Pure Politics).

Still, Beshear said the groundwork has been laid in the wake of five years of budget cuts and programs, such as education, that need more funding.

“The need for revenue — the groundwork has been well-laid,” Beshear said. “…What I am doing now is putting together the ideas from the tax reform report and working with legislators to see if there’s some common ground we can find.”

As for casinos, Beshear said he is “cautiously optimistic” that 2014 will be the year that the legislature can pass a “simple” constitutional amendment amendment allowing casinos in Kentucky. (That discussion starts at 3:40 of the video):

Beshear lately has focused mostly on touting Kentucky’s roll out of the health exchange and Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act.

He hasn’t been seeking to drum up public support for either tax reform or casinos.

For instance, he didn’t mention either during a speech to the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce last week until he was asked about casinos by a member of the audience. Here’s what he said last Wednesday:


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