Governor's 'game plan' on tax reform is to wait; Lawmaker questions 'bold leadership'

02/05/2013 07:39 PM

After crafting a 453-page report of recommendations to reform Kentucky’s tax code, Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration is poised to stick it on a shelf, at least for the this winter’s General Assembly session.

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, who headed up the blue ribbon commission that produced that report, and Secretary of Governor’s Cabinet Mary Lassiter told the joint Senate and House Appropriations and Revenue Committee on Tuesday that a tax reform bill is unlikely.

Lassiter first outlined a bleak economic outlook for the commonwealth, including that the current tax structure has failed to grow with the economy and program costs outpace revenue. That set the stage for Abramson to make a pitch for the suggestions of the Blue Ribbon Tax Reform Commission which, as a package, would bring in more than $650 million in revenue.

Rep. Jim Wayne — a Louisville Democrat and a non-voting member on the tax reform commission — said he agreed with a majority of proposals the group recommended in its report. And he said he had hoped the administration would urge a legislator to file a bill based on the recommendations so the legislature could debate and study it, potentially in preparation for a special session later this year.

In the shorter legislative sessions during odd-years, each chamber would need a three-fifths super majority to pass any bill dealing with revenue. That’s the main reason Lassiter said the governor is inclined to wait on the issue.

Abramson said the administration’s plan was to talk with lawmakers to find common ground in preparation for a special session later.

“We’ll spend some time with the leadership of the Senate and leadership of the House to see where common ground exists on the document we’ve worked so hard and spent so much time on,” Abramson said. “Which could give us an even better running start for a special session to ultimately move forward.”

Rep. Steven Rudy, R-West Paducah, asked if the game plan from Beshear on the issue was the ‘bold leadership’ the Governor has promised in past speeches and his 2011 re-election campaign.

“Secretary Lassiter you’ve laid out the need, we’re already kicking the can down the road – special session. You know, where is the bold leadership? Where is the position statements,” Rudy said. “I mean, I get the fact that there’s probably not buy in, but I mean is this it – just kick it to the General Assembly and let us decide?”

Watch the full exchange on the video below:

Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Republican Bob Leeper of Paducah later told Pure Politics he wasn’t surprised that the tax reform legislation will have to wait.

“I don’t think we’re shocked by it. Different people have different strategies and some suggested that would be a good idea (Tuesday) in the meeting, and it’s the Governor’s strategy to develop and they’re choosing to do it this way,” Leeper said.

Watch the extended interview with Leeper below:


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