Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

June 5, 2013

Does anyone have the guts to reform taxes?


June 5, 2013 — Public school districts have been operating school buses with no funding increases for 10 years. No textbook money has been available for the last four years at any grade level.

Teachers are being laid off in every school district. Family resource centers, which serve the neediest population, are cutting back on staff and supplies.

Schools are being forced to pay part of their operating expenses from capital funds intended for building renovations and replacement equipment.

Child care subsidies for low income families are being reduced, forcing some parents to quit their jobs to stay at home.

State convicts are being paroled from prisons and county jails in record numbers because the state can’t afford to house and feed them.

Tuition increases at public universities and community and technical colleges have become as predictable as the changing seasons.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Kentucky college students will be told again this fall that there is not enough money to fund all of the state grants to which they are entitled.

Hundreds of bridges on federal, state and local roads are in need of repair or replacement. Despite a relatively mild winter, many state highways are in desperate need of resurfacing. State social workers have larger and larger caseloads as reports of abused and neglected children continue to rise.

State-funded grants for Main Street enhancement, performing and visual arts and historical preservation projects are non-existent.

Counties like Rowan are being told, despite earlier promises, there is no state money to help plan or build a new jail.

Like a few other Kentuckians, we were hopeful last year when Gov. Steve Beshear appointed a blue ribbon commission to study the state tax code and suggest revisions.

That optimism went south in the legislative session, however, when no tax reform legislation received serious consideration.

Some minor taxes were adjusted to help with the state’s major funding shortfall in public pensions but nothing was changed to bolster the general fund or road fund.

The “less is best” government haters like the Tea Party have made it too politically dangerous to even speak the “T” (for taxes) word in Frankfort.

The tax reform commission submitted 54 recommendations but no one of substance has been enacted into law.

There was some talk of a special session on taxes but that was squelched.

Kentucky’s ranking as one of the poorest states in the U.S. seems secure and that is terrible news for our children.

Whatever happened to winning? Or finishing in the money?