Governor says he will push for gambling but not tax reform 'until I feel comfortable' with economy

10/27/2011 08:00 AM

Gov. Steve Beshear criticized the tax reform approach pushed by his Republican opponent, David Williams, but said he wouldn’t offer up a proposal of his own as long as the economy is shaky.

Williams has proposed eliminating income taxes and having a panel of economists design a consumption-based tax structure, which could include expanded sales taxes to other sectors of the economy that are not currently taxed.

Beshear called the tax change approach pushed by Williams a “typical career politician’s approach during an election.”

“He tells you, I’m going to do away with all your income taxes, all the corporate income taxes, but then I’ll let another group decide how we’re going to replace all that money,” Beshear said.

Beshear said he might look at other suggestions — such as spreading out the sales taxes to services and lowering, but not eliminating, income taxes. But he has taken an approach of I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it about the timing of taking up such a debate.

“Until I feel comfortable that talking about tax reform and jiggering around with our tax code is not going to push us back toward a recession, I’m not going to do anything,” he said. “Right now is the last time — the very last time — to raise broad-based taxes.”

In the first three minutes of this interview segment, Beshear addressed another left over promise from his 2007 campaign: to deliver expanded gambling to Kentucky.

“After the election is over with, I’m going to sit down with House leadership, I’m going to sit down with senators, and I want to try to figure out where that common ground is,” he said. “Can we find common ground?”

Beshear repeated his case that Kentucky’s horse racing industry needs additional revenue, which could come from gambling receipts.

“We need to step up and do something about it,” Beshear said.

Beshear said he won’t prejudge whether the best approach is trying again for legislation to allow slots at the track — as lawmakers tried in 2009 — or a constitutional amendment, which would require approval of two-thirds of both legislative chambers and ratification by voters.

“Certainly if it gets on the ballot, I’ll be very public. I’m going to be for it. And I’m going to try to convince the people of this state to vote for it,” Beshear said.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.