Legislators' role (or lack thereof) in proposed tax reform process could be a sticking point

01/05/2011 06:36 PM

FRANKFORT — While a Senate committee unanimously passed the bill outlining a process to revamp Kentucky’s tax code on Wednesday, the Democratic leader of the House said the measure is unlikely to fly in that chamber.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the big snag with the legislation is that lawmakers wouldn’t be able to edit or revise whatever plan is recommended by the tax reform task force created by the bill.

The Senate Republicans’ bill would create a group of economics professors, certified public accounts and property value administrators charged with overhauling the tax code by the start of the 2012 legislative session. Once the proposal was presented in bill form, legislators would get the choice to approve or reject the plan but not change it.

Stumbo said lawmakers should be a big part of the process when it comes to tax code reform. He also said he didn’t believe that any proposed new tax code from the commission would pass either chamber in 2012.

Stumbo’s comments came just before the Senate’s appropriations and revenue committee voted 17-0 for the legislation. It now goes to the Senate floor for a vote as early as Thursday.

But Williams said he didn’t take Stumbo’s comments to mean that the bill was dead for the 2011 session. He said he would continue to make the case to Stumbo and Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear that creating a commission to revamp the tax code was the “best way to approach tax reform” for the state.

And Williams said the fact that the General Assembly still has the ability to vote any proposed new tax code, whether they approve or reject the proposal, means lawmakers are still in control of the process. Even if the commission’s proposal failed, it would give the General Assembly a good “starting point,” Williams said.

The tax reform process is a key point in the Senate Republicans’ 2011 agenda. While Williams said he didn’t want to pre-judge the work of a tax reform task force, he said last month on Pure Politics that he expected the group to consider eliminating Kentucky’s personal and corporate income tax rate.

-Written by Kenny Colston, videos by Don Weber


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