House member concerned about votes needed to pass reforms
By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
Gov. Matt Bevin sent a letter Tuesday to all 138 members of the General Assembly and told them he does not plan to call a special session before Aug. 15 “out of respect to our families and summer schedules.”
According to a story from Associated Press reporter Adam Beam, Bevin said he has decided how he wants to change the tax code. He urged all lawmakers to share their ideas with his budget staff by July 15. Specifically, Bevin said he wants to know which tax exemptions should be repealed.
However, a prominent House member has concerns about the likelihood there will be enough votes to pass a plan on this time frame.
In an exclusive interview with The Bottom Line ahead of the news of Bevin’s letter, House Education Chair Rep. Bam Carney said before Gov. Bevin’s recent comments that he will “100%” call a special session, Carney did not feel that a special session this year was very likely because of the lack of political will and capital needed to pass such huge reforms.
“We took on a lot of controversial issues our first session as a majority with right-to-work, prevailing wage, and charter schools,” Carney said. “I think we all want tax reform regardless of party, I think we need it. The issue becomes finding 51 votes in the House to pass it because what I view as tax reform, someone else may view as something different and vice versa.”
Carney cited the governor’s State of the Commonwealth Address in January where Bevin said the state has many “sacred cows” that need to be reviewed when it comes to tax reform. Carney agreed with that sentiment but expressed concerns that constituents of many House members could see it as a tax increase if their “sacred cow” is not put “back in the barn,” as the governor put it.
“True tax reform, we all want it. But it is such a broad, large topic that I think we are going to have trouble finding the majority. Not saying it can’t be done, the governor has proven that he is able to pull some things off, he’s got a lot of things passed in his first couple years in office,” Carney said. “I don’t want to be pessimistic, but if I had to put odds on it right now, I don’t think we will get that accomplished. But I have been wrong before.”
In his interview with The Bottom Line, Carney also discussed what comes next for the state’s new charter school law as well as what education issues will be coming up in the 2018 session. Be watching for those stories on kychamberbottomline.com later this week.
For more state government news go to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s The Bottom Line blog.