Mayor Fischer pushes local option sales tax at State Capitol - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mayor Fischer pushes local option sales tax at State Capitol

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Should you be allowed to raise your own taxes? That's the big question behind the local option sales tax.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer went to Frankfort to try to sell the idea to skeptical lawmakers.

The local option sales tax is either the essence of democracy or an attempt to squeeze more money out of already overtaxed citizens. Both sides had their say in Frankfort.

"It's easy for you guys. Just say, 'Let the people decide.' Let's not complicate this issue," Fischer told legislators.

But in Frankfort, it's always complicated.

Fischer made his sales pitch to lawmakers, along with Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and two county executives.

Fischer telling the Local Government Committee that voters should be allowed to decide whether to raise their sales tax by up to 1%, temporarily, to pay for specific projects.

"It's flexible, and the citizens control the choice. They're the ones who vote yes or vote no," said Fischer.

For the local option to happen, the General Assembly would have to pass a constitutional amendment, which must then by approved by voters across the state.

Some lawmakers voiced support. Democratic Rep. Steve Riggs of Louisville said he liked the idea.

Others recoiled at even the possibility of raising taxes.

"I have not once in the 10-and-a-half years I've been in the General Assembly had a constituent come up to me and say they want to pay more taxes. And that's where I have a problem with this issue," said Sen. Damon Thayer, a Republican from Georgetown.

Sen. Dan Seum, a Louisville Republican, said he's also skeptical unless taxes are reduced elsewhere.

"I'm interested in, quite frankly, income tax or tax reform for the state. And I see this as issue as a door opener to that issue," he said.

"We're just going to have to get over this thing of people saying, it's a tax. No, it's allowing the people to vote. They can vote against it. But for those who see this as an investment to grow the city, it's a tool that we need," said Fischer.

If nothing else, this hearing reveals that supporters of the local option sales tax must still do some heavy lifting to get this through the General Assembly.

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