Local Option Sales Tax plan gets major boost in KY House - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local Option Sales Tax plan gets major boost in KY House

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Local Option bill will be co-sponsored by House Republican Leader Hoover. Local Option bill will be co-sponsored by House Republican Leader Hoover.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A proposal to allow local voters to decide whether to raise taxes got a major boost Friday.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has designated the Local Option Sales Tax as House Bill 1,  meaning it's his top priority for the 2015 legislative session.

It appears the bill will get both bipartisan support and opposition.

The Local Option Sales Tax, or LIFT as supporters call it, allows local voters to temporarily raise the sales tax by a penny to pay for specific projects. But local option would require a change to Kentucky's constitution.

"I think that it's gaining a lot of traction," said Stumbo, who has opposed the idea in the past.

However, Stumbo says Gov. Steve Beshear changed his mind by explaining it would actually help the state budget.

"Instead of having to spend state dollars for these projects in these local communities, it would potentially free up some state dollars that we could spend in the areas of education, health and human services, those types of things," said Stumbo.

The top House Republican has signed on as a co-sponsor.

"I have always thought that this was government at its best. It's government at the most local level," said House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover.

Supporters briefed about two dozens House members Friday morning. They'll have to convince both wings, conservatives and liberals.

"It's not a great idea. It's a horrible idea," said Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville.)

Wayne believes the sales tax unfairly affects the poor.

"You're actually adding another layer of injustice on those folks," he said.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who's been pushing local option for some two years, believes it will help the poor by growing local economies.

"What a local county or city has to decide is, do they want to play to win? Do they believe enough in their cities and counties to invest in their future, so they can grow their economies and grow jobs," said Fischer.

If the bill passes two-thirds of the House and Senate, then it goes on the ballot for a statewide vote in November, 2016.

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