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sales-taxA friend alerted KyFreePress to the brand new marketing push for the tired old idea of passing a constitutional amendment giving local governments the “right” to authorize a 1% sales tax for “community” projects. It’s being branded as the Lift Kentucky tax.

If history teaches us anything, it’s that a tax by its very nature enslaves the payer and diminishes the economy. It does not, in fact cannot, lift anyone except the politicians who use that money to reward campaign contributors and cousins.

Talk about a government solution to a government-created problem! Kentucky is broke at every level, thanks to bloated pensions, no balanced budget, rampant unemployment and reckless overspending by the same legislators who want to raise your taxes. Er, who want to allow you to raise your own taxes.

Instead of cutting spending or balancing the budget or doing away with fat legislator pensions to make up for that fat deficit, legislators propose a new TAX.

According to this article from 2012, a local tax is desperately needed for critical improvements like roads (gas taxes already pay for these), sewer lines, swimming pools, fitness centers, riding trails, revamped theatres (click here and go to Projects) and a new Rupp Arena.

According to this article from 2013, a Bluegrass Poll determined that 60% of Kentuckians favor this idea. Really?

BLUEGRASS POLL® is what a local media group (Courier-Journal, and a few radio stations) calls a poll it buys from SurveyUSA (see “About the Poll” at the bottom of that page). One source gives SurveyUSA mediocre marks among its polling peers. That is mildly comforting.

The Problem with Polls

Polls are like statistics. You can find one to support most any notion when a race is close. And the outcome depends completely on how you ask the question. If you want to sway public opinion, use a poll that supports your idea. Everyone wants to be on the winning team, even if that team is paying higher taxes.

According to this other article from 2013, the Chamber of Commerce is behind this tax increase. This definitely means it’s bad for business owners. The COC is to business what the NDAA is to liberty.

The 3 Major Problems with the Local Option Tax:

1. When it begins, perhaps local people will actually get involved, champion an idea, vote on it. “Perhaps” because most people never vote for anyone or anything except for President. Historically, as time goes by, fewer and fewer people will pay attention to what the local option tax is paying for. And the decision-making will be left in the hands of local politicians. Who will buy anything and everything they want with your money, rewarding their supporters, friends and family in the process. As usual.

2. Let’s say some of the locals do pay attention and get involved. These will be people with time on their hands, like retired people (this author is a boomer, nothing wrong with boomers), government employees and government beneficiaries. People in the last two groups should not be allowed to vote period! Regardless, they won’t include working moms and dads, you can be sure of that! Who has the time to research and vote on every project their neighbors come up with??? Like all taxes, you will end up with projects that:

  • ultimately benefit local politicians more than local citizens and
  • most locals would rather do without but didn’t have time to fight and have to pay for anyway.

3. Amend the Constitution for a new tax? Really? Amending the Constitution should be the last resort for any change to our government!

The Sunset Clause

Don’t worry: the tax sunsets once the project is completed. [Pause]
Do Kentucky legislators think taxpayers are dumb as rocks?

Apparently they did last year. In the 2014 session, House Bill 399 was introduced, then got all gummed up with gambling. Senate Bill 135 was introduced, but never made it out of committee.

Although it’s not yet on the LRC’s list of pre-filed bills for 2015, it’s on its way, according to Stumbo, and likely to be BR1, which is conspicuously missing as of today.

Who’s Behind Lift Kentucky?

That’s the other burning question: who makes up Lift Kentucky LLC? A call to Eileen has not yet gotten a response and the email link does not work. The basic LLC info is found  on the KY SOS site. The directors are C. Edward Glasscock, Jonathan Goldberg, Kerry Stemler, Stephen Gault, and Bill Samuels, Jr. Who are these men and what is the motivation?

Eyes Wide Open

As soon as this hits the pre-filed bills, let your reps know what you think. Call the legislative hotline at 800-372-7181 and leave a message for your House and Senate reps (no matter in which chamber the bill is filed). LRC Hotline hours are Mon-Fri 8-4:30 (hours go much later during session, starting Jan 2015).

Politicians the world over like nothing more than looking good by being generous with your money. Kentucky’s swells are no different, as they’ve proven over and over and over again… pretty much every time they pass a bill. Let’s at least hold the line at implementing new taxes, no matter how much they need the money.

By the way, anyone know of a Kentucky tax that was supposed to sunset, then did?