A few weeks ago, former governor Matt Bevin said Kentucky will face a $1.1 Billion shortfall during the next two years. The 2020 Legislative Session is a budget year, meaning lawmakers will be tasked with some tough decisions, which usually means cuts.
Before discussing the need to find new revenue streams in order to prevent massive cuts to important programs, such as education, let’s throw it back to 2018, when Bevin championed tax reform. Bevin, who loves consumption taxes, championed a flat tax in 2018. He and other GOP lawmakers pushed for more sales and use taxes and opponents warned these new policies would hurt lower income families and only benefit the wealthiest.
A two-year shortfall the size of what Kentucky is potentially facing will be devastating.
In 2018, The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy warned 95 percent of Kentuckians would pay more. Here is an excerpt from a 2018 Courier-Journal article:
An analysis by the tax policy center was less upbeat, predicting that the state’s move to tax lower-income residents and lighten the load on the affluent won’t pay off in the long run. Wages aren’t growing for people on the lower rungs, but studies consistently show that the rich are getting richer. To reduce taxes on the rich “is leaving money on the table,’ center spokeswoman Anna Baumann said.
That’s hitting the nail on the head. Now, let’s return to the present. A two-year shortfall the size of what Kentucky is potentially facing will be devastating. Remember what happened in Kansas? It got so bad, GOP lawmakers instituted higher taxes – bless their hearts.
Revenue options such as medical or recreational marijuana, gambling, sports betting, and increased hemp production make sense, but too many hypocritical Kentuckians want to legislate morality and watch Kentucky money be spent in other states. The legend is Mark Twain said, “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Kentucky, because everything there happens 20 years after everywhere else.” Cough, cough – charter schools and vouchers. There is no record he actually said this, but the quote lives on because it’s so true. If we can’t implement these options just yet, at the very least, we must repeal the 2018 tax reforms and implement a more progressive system.
We must rid Kentucky of the flat tax. We must make sure corporations pay a fair share and the wealthy are paying at least 7 percent, if not 8 or 9 percent. Don’t dare tell me it’s unfair for a person making $200,000 to pay 9 percent while a person making $20,000 pays only 3 percent. Asking both to pay the same rate is idiocy and cruel. The current 5 percent tax impacts the individual making $20,000 far greater than the person making $200,000. Don’t try to convince me that consumption taxes are fair. They impact the lowest incomes the greatest.
Kentuckians must come down from their high horse and take a good look around. If you think things are bad now, give it two more years of this regressive tax system. Urge your lawmakers to find the revenue needed and to lift the burden from Kentucky’s working class and poor. If not, you better strap up your laces and vote these fools out in 2020, or things in Kentucky could reach an all-time ugly by mid-decade.