Even with funding requests mounting, lawmakers resigning themselves to no tax reform in '14

11/13/2013 08:34 AM

For months — even the last several years — the 2014 General Assembly session has been circled as a prime opportunity to craft tax changes to make Kentucky “more business friendly” and have revenue “grow more with the economy,” as legislators like to say.

It’s looking less and less likely by the day that it’s going to happen.

“That would be great. And it probably should be. However, I think by now we need to have set forth the parameters (and) start working it,” said Republican Rep. Adam Koenig of Erlanger at 4:45 of the interview below. “The governor, I would imagine, probably needed to be out selling his vision to the rest of the state. And that hasn’t happened. And 2015 is a gubernatorial year, so nobody’s going to do anything.”

Koenig is just the latest lawmaker to say that he hasn’t seen or heard of any plan to revamp the tax code — even as they say they believe it should happen.

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson has been sounding the alarms for tax changes ASAP as he makes speeches across the state. But the type of political groundwork that would have had to have been laid to outline a plan to the public and drum up bipartisan support just hasn’t happened.

At the same time, pent up demand for dollars for programs and departments that have seen cuts over the last six years is overflowing as legislators prepare to craft the budget that runs from July 2014 through June 2016.

“I know Northern Kentucky we have a building at NKU for a nursing program that’s very important. We have a shortage of nursing in Northern Kentucky,” Koenig said (0:25). “…It should be vitally important to not just Northern Kentucky but Kentucky as a whole and our entire health care system. As more people have health care and they go to seek preventative care, nurses are going to be even more important.”

That and other projects would likely be funded by the state selling bonds. But some lawmakers, such as Owensboro Republican Sen. Joe Bowen, have called for a hard cap on how much Kentucky could put on its credit card. Bowen’s proposal has called for no more than 6 percent of the amount of tax revenue the general fund brings in. Koenig addresses the debt cap at 2:00.

And Koenig said he expects much of the extra tax revenue as Kentucky’s economy recovers from the recession to go toward shoring up the public pension system. Koenig said he disagrees with the skepticism of other lawmakers about changes to the retirement system the legislature passed last spring.

“Let’s give it a chance to work — or not work. I think it will work. It will certainly be an improvement,” Koenig said.


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