Kentucky legislators begin to tackle tax reform - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky legislators begin to tackle tax reform

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky legislature is back in session with a laundry list of issues to tackle. One of the toughest is tax reform and whether some Kentuckians will have to pay more.

Much has been made about the new spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship in Frankfort. That spirit is going to be tested severely by tax reform.

Late today, the governor's task force on tax reform presented its recommendations to lawmakers; recommendations expected to include broadening the sales tax, and a tax increase for those in the highest tax bracket. Task force members say something must be done to close a budget gap expected to reach $1 billion dollars by 2020.

"It's not just that we have a short-term problem and we've made cuts. It's more about the future and what does the future look like if we continue on the path that we are on," acting Budget Director Mary Lassiter told lawmakers.

Louisville Representative Jim Wayne has already filed a bill adopting many of the task force recommendations.

"It's only the top income earners, the people who are not paying their fair share right now, that we will try to address and increase their tax load a little bit more. So we think that's reasonable," said Wayne.

But one key player, House Speaker Greg Stumbo is not tipping his hand just yet.

"I don't think that it's unreasonable to do exactly what the governor requested; to keep an open mind," said Stumbo.

While Stumbo says he's open, leaders of the Republican Senate are drawing the line. No tax hikes.

"I don't think raising taxes at any time is good public policy. Right now, when we are in the midst of a fragile economic recovery, I just don't see us being in favor of tax increases," said Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown.

So the stage is set for a vigorous debate which may not get settled until a possible special session this year or perhaps the 2014 budget session.

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