With additional tax and pension reforms, as well as infrastructure investment still on the table going into a budget year in 2020, which will also be an election year for many legislators, House and Senate leaders say they are confident the big issues can be tackled and passed in 2020.
In interviews with The Bottom Line, House Majority Leader John “Bam” Carney and Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer discussed what they feel will be the top priorities in the upcoming regular session of the General Assembly.
Rep. Carney said while big issues like pensions, taxes, and infrastructure are daunting to many, especially while running for re-election, he believes the votes must be taken to move the state forward.
“If you do the right thing, elections will take care of themselves. So, we just have to do the right thing by the Kentuckians, make the right policy decisions that benefit them, and continue to grow the state, grow the economy, create jobs, protect families, and we’re going to do that,” Carney said.
The House and Senate Majority Leaders both stated tax reform will be a priority with the goal of lowering individual income tax rates and expanding the tax base by incorporating the state sales tax onto items that are often taxed in many surrounding states but not currently being taxed in Kentucky.
“I want to continue lowering the rates, moving away from taxing production, to lowering the rates on personal and corporate income taxes and get more towards the taxing of consumption…It’s the right thing to do,” Thayer said.
As Kentucky continues to struggle with adequate funding for roads and bridges and faces a loss of federal funding, infrastructure investment continues to be a big topic of discussion in the state. Legislation has been presented to raise the gas tax as well as raise other taxes and fees in order to generate more revenue for the road fund.
While many of Kentucky’s surrounding states have voted to raise their gas tax and take other similar actions to shore up their infrastructure funding, Thayer said the Senate does not have the votes for a gas tax increase.
Thayer said there needs to be an education campaign across the state to educate voters why there is a need for such an increase as well as a better solution to handle the impact of more fuel-efficient and hybrid cars on the road to ensure all motorists pay their fair share for using Kentucky’s infrastructure.
Watch the interview with Senate Majority Damon Thayer here:
Carney also stressed the importance of adequate funding for education along with additional reforms to ensure Kentucky students graduate with the skills they need to enter the workforce.
“We have to continue to raise the expectations in the classroom for students and staff and for everyone, and there’s a lot of ways to do that,” Carney said.
Watch the interview with House Majority Leader John “Bam” Carney here: