A plan to give local governments the ability to pay for capital projects with a temporary, one percent, sales tax increase is headed to the Kentucky House. The measure has cleared a committee, but faces difficult prospects.
Because it would amend the state constitution, the measure will need a super majority in both the House and the Senate. It would then go to the public on the November ballot.
House Democratic leaders are split over the bill. Speaker Greg Stumbo says rural taxpayers will end up with the bill for projects that will be used more by their urban counterparts.
But Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, says Stumbo hasn’t really made up his mind.
“We’ll just keep educating folks. I mean, the input for Speaker Stumbo’s coming from all over the state, in terms of who’s for this bill, both rural and metropolitan areas,” said Fischer. “So we’ll hope he’ll listen to the people and be for the bill.”
Fischer has been the issue's chief cheerleader for years.
Bill Sponsor Tommy Thompson of Owensboro realizes passage before the full house will be challenging.
“We’ll go to the floor, talk to the members, continue to discuss, continue to provide information and we’ll see where it goes. This is a fluid process. I think this particular bill has some great momentum for a good reason,” said Thompson.
A legislative committee in Frankfort will hear testimony Wednesday on a proposal to allow local governments to let citizens decide on implementing a temporary sales tax to fund specific projects.
The idea being heard by the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government at 10 a.m. EDT is to allow ballot referendums on whether to temporarily impose a sales tax of up to 1 cent to pay for new parks, sidewalks, roads and buildings.
Some 37 states already allow a temporary sales tax for local government projects.
Committee Chairman Steve Riggs said too often cities don't have the money to pay for special projects. Legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to allow such a temporary tax was introduced in the General Assembly earlier this year but didn't receive a vote.