Government
8:50 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Officials Discuss Tax Reform in Kentucky

A Lexington state representative with a history of tax reform interest says the current panel studying the issue is quite different in its makeup.  

Bill Farmer was one of four guests on KET’S Kentucky Tonight Monday.  The veteran lawmaker says tax professionals are not a key part of the process.

“When they set up this commission, they specifically left out all practicing attorneys all practicing accountants...so they could have people outside the industries that are most affected by the tax laws...and I think what he wanted was a truly citizen based group of stakeholders who are at a level where they can articulate the needs of the specific constituencies that they represent,” says Farmer.

Louisville state representative Jim Wayne has advocated change in Kentucky’s tax code for close to a decade.  He believes the current effort to modernize the code stands a better chance of succeeding.

“So we’re actually putting all this theological stuff... into practice and listening how our policies have adversely affected people, so my hope is that this is the beginning of something good...but we almost have to create a crisis for any action to take place,” says Wayne.

The governor appointed commission on tax reform is just getting started with its effort to map out a modernization strategy.  But, already the panel's work is attracting a great deal of attention.  Andy Hightower with Kentucky Club for Growth believes the extensive review is an effort to push for new taxes.

“But he is asking for Kentuckians to come forward and say we need to spend more on several different areas and we need more taxes on Kentuckians and that simply isn’t going to pass the general assembly...it isn’t what we need,” says Hightower.

A number of groups across Kentucky are advocating for significant change in the state’s tax code.  Kentucky Youth Advocates is one of those organizations.  KYA Director Terry Brooks is skeptical a complete overhaul of the tax program is practical.

“Right now I think the environment in Frankfort, which is not gonna be helped by a presidential campaign...is so toxic and so partisan that any kind of actionable agenda from this commission or any like commission is gonna be difficult,” says Brooks.

A report from the tax commission is expected by the end of the year.