Williams says he's confident in immigration bill, offers hints about tax reform

12/20/2010 07:07 PM

State Senate President David Williams said he thinks a panel of tax experts should consider ditching the state’s corporate and personal income tax, although he added that he didn’t want to pre-judge what that yet-to-be-approved task force should recommend.

He also said on Monday’s edition of Pure Politics that an Arizona-style immigration law is appropriate and necessary for Kentucky.

Senate Republicans announced this month that they plan to introduce an immigration measure that closely mirror the controversial bill passed in Arizona. The legislation, a draft of which has not been filed yet, will include the most controversial provision of the Arizona law that allows law enforcement to check a person’s legal status, the Senate’s leader said.

Williams, a Burkesville Republican and GOP candidate for governor, said he talked with the sponsor of the Arizona bill to find out “its strengths and weaknesses.” And he said he’s not worried about legal challenges to its provisions if it passes even though parts of the Arizona law are currently mired in federal court.

“I don’t really have a concern,” Williams said during the first segment of an episode-long interview. “It’s not an unreasonable intrusion into someone’s civil rights of any sort to ask them to identify themselves.”

“We want to make sure our law enforcement officers have a spelled-out right to make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of folks that they stop,” he said.

Williams also hinted that he’d like to see the state move to eliminate the state’s corporate and individual income tax — or at least strongly consider doing so.

In the interview, he talked about the process he and Senate Republicans hope to start to look at revamping the state’s tax code. As part of the agenda, which Williams announced on Dec. 10,  was the formation of a task force to look into ways to make Kentucky’s tax code more efficient.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said on Pure Politics on Dec. 1 that he wasn’t focused on making tax reform a priority.

Williams said on Monday night’s program that if Beshear won’t lead on the issue, the legislature will.

“We’re going to have to make these changes. We’ve studied it for years, and it appears that the governor does not have any interest in this,” he said also in first part of Monday’s interview with Williams.

Depsite saying he didn’t want to influence the task force before it starts, Williams indicated that he expected ditching the state’s income tax would have to be an option.

“I don’t want to pre-judge” the task force, he said. “But I will tell you that the personal and corporate income tax is an impediment, and I would think that any group of experts would take those out, especially the corporate income tax.”

Williams cited Tennessee, which does not collect taxes on income. Instead it has a 7% state sales tax and allows local communities to put additional sales taxes on top of that. The largest cities have 2.25% sales taxes. And that includes taxes on groceries, which are exempt in Kentucky.

Williams’ Republican gubernatorial primary opponent, Phil Moffett, has suggested getting rid of the income taxes in favor of spreading Kentucky’s 6% sales tax to services and purchases that are currently exempt, including medicine and groceries. Moffett discussed his proposal on Pure Politics in a recent interview.

- Ryan Alessi

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