Will tax reform have to wait? Thayer and Beshear talked about delaying 'til 2015 because of other issues

09/06/2013 10:24 AM

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear broadly talked about their respective priorities during a “pleasant discussion over salad” last week, including the potential of waiting another year for tax reform.

“We didn’t discuss any specifics on tax reform, and I don’t even know if tax reform will be an issue in 2014,” Thayer said (at 4:30). “We talked about the possibility of even potentially waiting a year until 2015 and maybe trying to get it out there and talk about it.”

The legislature must pass the next two-year budget during the 60-day session that begins in January 2014. Beshear wants to bring legislative leaders in on budget talks before anything is put in front of the legislature, said Thayer, who added that he believes that is a good approach. Watch the interview at 4:30 to find out why lawmakers might be more likely to wait on revamping the state’s tax code:

In response to a question from Pure Politics about what Thayer said, the governor’s spokeswoman sent a statement from Beshear reitterating his support for revamping the tax code after having to preside over $1.6 billion worth of state spending cuts during the recession.

“Even as we continue to get the expenditure side of the equation in order, we must address the revenue side to work on creating a fair, adequate tax code that meets the needs of our citizens, businesses and individuals alike,” Beshear’s statement said. “I remain interested in implementing comprehensive tax reform to help address the future needs of the Commonwealth, and remain hopeful that we will address the issue during the 2014 legislative session.”

Thayer said the ball is in the governor’s court on the issue of tax reform.

“The Senate Republicans and I doubt the House Republicans are going to be in favor of tax reform that raises $700 million in new revenue which is what Lt. Gov. (Jerry) Abramson’s tax force recommended,” Thayer said.

Thayer said even though he has a good working relationship with the Democratic governor, there are still things he strongly disagrees with him on. One of those issues being the implementation of the Health Benefit Exchange in Kentucky through the Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t believe he is within his authority as governor to do it without approval of the General Assembly,” Thayer said. “Our caucus is clearly opposed to this. You can just go back to Senate bills 39 and 40 during the legislative session and see we are pretty unanimous on this, we don’t feel that the governor has the legal authority to implement Obamacare.”

Thayer said Senate Republicans are still discussing whether they will try to tackle the issue with legislation to revoke or supersede Beshear’s executive order allowing the expansion of Medicaid and Health Benefit Exchange.

Earlier this summer, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the governor had the authority to approve the expansion of Medicaid but should have gotten legislative approval. Stivers said he, like Thayer, disagrees with the expansion of Medicaid and the Health Benefits Exchange because he’s concerned about the eventual cost to the state government.


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