Rep. Wayne "disappointed" with separation of pension and tax reforms; Critical of lack of response from administration on tax proposal

09/18/2017 01:43 PM

As Republican legislative leaders and members of Bevin’s administration work towards a package reforming the state’s struggling retirement systems, Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, says he’s frustrated with recent decisions to separate tax revenue from the discussion.

Wayne, one of the more progressive lawmakers, told Pure Politics on Monday that Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, had been a “pretty effective leader” with his calls tying tax and pension reform together earlier this year.

“I’m really disappointed in what transpired in the last 6-weeks,” Wayne said in a phone interview, pointing to the decision to address pension reforms before considering changes to the state’s tax code.

Republican lawmakers called on Gov. Bevin to take up the pension and tax reform separately; it’s still unclear when tax reform could be taken up.

Some lawmakers have openly speculated dealing with tax reform in second special session this year, or dealing with the issue during the regular 60-day session starting in January, or even a special session in 2018.

Wayne has already prefiled a bill detailing changes he would like to see in comprehensive tax reform. The bill includes six Democratic co-sponsors from the Louisville area.

The group sent their proposal to Gov. Bevin, as he sought tax reform input, but never heard back, Wayne said.

“We sent it to the governor, but received absolutely no response whatsoever — even though he solicited our ideas on tax reform back in June,” Wayne said. “It’s disappointing when the governor basically snubs you and doesn’t have the courtesy to ‘thank you for submitting this, and it looks like a well thought through proposal, I’ll consider it.’ We didn’t even get any response and that’s disappointing.”

Pure Politics reached out to Bevin’s administration to verify that proposal had been received and to seek a comment regarding Wayne’s disappointments. Bevin spokesperson Amanda Stamper said the governor is grateful to Wayne for submitting a tax proposal.

“Gov. Bevin is grateful to Rep. Wayne and others who have and will be submitting proposals,” Stamper wrote. “The administration will be discussing and considering all suggestions on meaningful tax reform at the appropriate time.”

As tax reform stalls, a special session on pension reforms loom with some in the legislature indicating a call could come for work in October of this year. Meanwhile, some state workers are getting heartburn as they read about proposed changes to the retirement plans from an outside group.

Wayne is holding a pension discussion on Monday evening to speak with voters, but has already been hearing from many constituents.

“There’s just such a state of chaos right now, and the governor is not helping it with his back-and-forth statements and his starting and then stalling and redirecting things, so the governor is showing that his talents may not be what we need during this crisis.”

Bevin’s administration launched a pension website detailing the need for reforms this week.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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