Ky. governor supports local tax levy proposal

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Associated Press

Posted on January 25, 2013 at 7:01 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Steve Beshear has joined municipalities across the state in backing a constitutional amendment that would allow local-option sales taxes.

The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/WisV16) reports Beshear said the proposal "makes sense" during a luncheon Wednesday sponsored by Greater Louisville Inc., which serves as the chamber of commerce for the Metro Louisville region.

The idea to create an alternative for funding local projects was recommended by a tax reform commission appointed by Beshear. It has also received support from the Kentucky League of Cities, Greater Louisville Inc., and county and city officials from across the state.

Previously, Beshear had said only that he was reviewing recommendations from the tax reform commission.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray have called since last spring for counties to be allowed to increase the 6 percent state sales tax and earmark those funds for needed local projects. Fischer has said $90 million a year could be raised with a 1-cent tax in Jefferson County.

"With all the needs we have with our roads and sidewalks and infrastructure, that could take care of it pretty quickly because our general fund cannot," Fischer said. "So the governor's voice in this effort is really big."

The proposal under discussion would require voters to cast ballots on any tax, which would have a sunset provision.

"This gives people the freedom to vote on investments," Fischer said. "It's only new revenue if people want to vote it in on specific projects."

Beshear said he doesn't think the proposal would hurt any municipality that seeks state funding for projects.

"I think the legislature would continue to look at individual projects that come down the road," Beshear said. "My guess is you'd be doing a lot bigger things with a local-option sales tax than what we usually fund from the legislative standpoint."

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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