FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear took two actions Wednesday in an effort to help Kentuckians deal with the historic inflation rates caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
During a press conference in Frankfort, Beshear announced that he and Rep. Angie Hatton (D-94) were filing legislation Wednesday that would temporarily drop Kentucky's statewide sales tax by 1%. If the proposal is passed, the sales tax will be lowered to 5% from July 1, 2022, until June 30, 2023.
According to Beshear, the proposal will decrease sales tax costs for all Kentucky families by more than 16% on purchases at retailers, restaurants and select items at the grocery store. Food and medicine are already tax-free in Kentucky.
"We're talking about savings for every single family buying the things they need," the governor said.
Beshear's proposal was hopeful news for small business owners like Rudy Bamba, the owner of Bamba Eggroll. Bamba said inflation is causing major issues as he tries to keep his restaurant running.
"It's so hard because, you know, you try to make it work and you gotta make it work," he said. Due to rising costs, Bamba said he's only able to buy enough supplies for a dinner service or lunch service rather than purchasing food by the case.
He said at this point, anything form of relief would help small businesses like his.
"There's bills and our sales aren't what they used to be," he said. "With the cost of food and everything in goods... some assistance would be great."
Additionally, Beshear signed an executive order Wednesday that will immediately stop an increase in vehicle property taxes across the state. According to the governor, used car values rose by 40% since last year, causing taxes to soar with them.
Through the executive order, Kentuckians will pay around the same amount of tax on their vehicle this year as they did in 2021, as long as their vehicle has not drastically changed in the last year. The order is effective immediately and will remain in effect for two years.
Beshear said those who have already paid their vehicle taxes for 2021 will be reimbursed for the difference.
The order provides similar relief to legislation that is currently going through the Kentucky General Assembly. Through Senate Joint Resolution 99, the Kentucky Senate gave Gov. Beshear the authority to provide relief on his own.
"The moment they say I can help Kentuckians, I'm sure as heck going to do it," Beshear said.
During Wednesday's conference, Beshear said Kentucky is in a good place financially with a "booming economy" and the best state budget in 25 years. According to a release from the governor, the state has a record-setting budget surplus in the 2021 fiscal year and is going into 2022 with nearly $2 billion more than budgeted.
He said the two actions he took Wednesday will not affect the planned investments detailed in his current budget proposal and will simply require some changes to the financing they already have planned.