WKU Public Radio News Staff
Fri March 7, 2014
Louisville Mayor Pushing Local Option Sales Tax, but Faces Opposition from Fellow Democrats
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is continuing his push for the local option sales tax, which would let communities vote on temporary sales tax increases to fund projects.
The Democratic mayor is facing opposition to the plan, but not from where you might expect. Much of the criticism of the effort comes from the political left.
In a 15-minute pitch in Frankfort, Fischer extolled the civic virtues of a sales tax that he says would be used to fund local projects chosen by committee and placed on a ballot before voters.
“We need additional capital sources," the mayor told his audience. "In the case of Louisville, 11 years ago four percent of our general fund was for pensions. Today it’s 15 percent. So it’s like a business, we’ve had an 11 percent increase in our expenses, but we haven’t been able to raise our prices; that is, we haven’t had a tax increase.”
But fellow Louisvillian and fellow Democrat Rep. Jim Wayne cited a study that showed the local option means lower income residents would pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than wealthier residents.
“All sales taxes hurt the poor and working class much, much more than they hurt the wealthy people," Wayne said. "And the wealthy people know that. That’s why these taxes are pushed by the wealthy, and the corporate elite and the power elite in Jefferson County.”
Fischer evaded questions about this aspect of the tax, and indicated that the measure has support from the Louisville Defender, an African-American newspaper in Louisville.
Lawmakers will debate the bill further next week.