By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
At the Kentucky Chamber’s inaugural Tax Summit, House Speaker Jeff Hoover announced that in the coming weeks, he will select bipartisan members for a working group to make strong suggestions to reform the state’s tax code. Hoover would like to begin work immediately after the end of a special session to address pension reform.
“Tax reform is a huge lift. But it is the type of lift we have to make if we want a better Kentucky,” Hoover said. “At the end of the day, it is about what did we do for the people of Kentucky.”
Hoover said tax reform is an issue that has been avoided for too long and needs to be tackled, much like many of the other topics that have been addressed in 2017.
Kentucky is falling behind other states when it comes to our tax code and other areas that prevent the state from attracting investment, Hoover said.
“Kentucky is a different place than it was a year ago,” Hoover said, adding that it is time for the state to build on these investments and make Kentucky more competitive and successful.
Hoover said one way to start moving the state begins with getting the state’s fiscal house in order, which starts with pension reform that is expected to be tackled in a special session this fall.
The House Speaker said the solutions on pension reforms will be long term solutions and expects once their plan is public, there will be “a lot of relief” across the state.
After pension reforms, Hoover said, will come a tough budget session as the state already faces budget shortfalls and will continue to have to find billions of dollars for the state pension systems. Because of these issues, Speaker Hoover said tax reform will have to be part of the solution.
“Our tax structure is not only complicated, it is antiquated. And it must be modernized,” Hoover said.
In terms of examples of what could be on the table when it comes to reforms, Hoover said tax exemptions currently given by the state need to be revisited and pointed to the inventory tax’s unfair impact on business in the state.
Hoover pointed to grim statistics on a fiscal and tax front that face Kentucky and said a pro-growth tax structure is the way the Commonwealth can ensure the state becomes more competitive.
“The tax burden on our people is higher than that of any of our surrounding states,” Hoover said. “Make no mistake, addressing tax reform is no easy task. This is not a black and white issue. It’s going to take time, dedication, and expertise.”
“We drastically need your input,” Hoover told the crowd of Kentucky business leaders.
Check back on The Bottom Line to see video of Hoover’s remarks.
For more state government news go to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s The Bottom Line blog.