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April 6, 2018

Guest Editorial

 

By Jim Paxton
The Paducah Sun

Kentucky's Republican legislators proved Monday that they are nothing of the sort. Just like the Democrats they recently relegated to minority status, GOP lawmakers demonstrated they just can't stop spending.

We suspect this fatal misstep -- and it will be fatal to Republican control of the Legislature come November -- is driven by political cowardice.

GOP lawmakers last week approved a timid pension reform measure in a stealth process ending late at night. The changes will not come close to solving the pension crisis, saving almost no money in the near term.

But the revisions were met with a massive outcry from the teachers' union and other public employee groups. Raucous demonstrations were staged in the capital despite the fact that most of the changes bypass current employees.

So Monday GOP lawmakers ambushed taxpayers with a second stealth measure -- a tax increase. They expanded the 6 percent sales tax to everything from dry cleaning to veterinary care -- a move that will net Frankfort an extra half-billion dollars over the biennium if it stands.

Part of this new money would go to increase classroom funding in a doomed effort to assuage teachers angered by the pension changes. But it is fair to expect some of the largess to also find its way to legislators' age-old practice of handing out fire trucks and other goodies in their districts at election time.

The Republican tax package cuts the top state income tax rate from 6 percent to 5 percent. But it takes much of that back by eliminating a slew of deductions and credits. New tax money comes from expansion of the sales tax to 17 common services. The bill requires Kentuckians to pay sales tax on such items as auto repair labor, landscaping, fitness club memberships and overnight camping slots.

Kentucky voters are outraged, as they should be. Democrats have been trying to pass a sales tax expansion like this since the days of Gov. Paul Patton. That Republicans would do it instead having just won supermajorities in both legislative chambers is surreal.

It is reminiscent of what happened when Louie Nunn in 1967 became the first Republican governor in Kentucky in 20 years. Nunn had run on a promise to reduce taxes. Instead he raised the sales tax by two cents and went on a monumental spending spree. Voters reacted predictably. It was 30 years before Republicans managed to elect another governor.

Gov. Matt Bevin has threatened to veto this bill and he should. Republican lawmakers should be forced to try to override his veto and stand for election having done so.

This newspaper doesn't typically endorse in legislative races. But if this law stands we are likely to make an exception.

We're inclined to issue a blanket endorsement for Democrats in every local legislative race come November. Why not, after all? When one looks at what the nominal Republicans in Frankfort have done this week one can only ask: Republicans? Democrats? What's the difference?

 

Comments  

-2 #4 me too 2018-04-09 12:47
Quoting Terry:
I WOULD NEVER VOTE FOR A democrat for anything!!!!!! That’s my opinion!!!



I decided years ago to never vote democrat again. I used to think the local elections should go to whoever seemed best for the job, but I have learned they all stick together and vote the party line no matter what. Now, if I don't like the republican, I just don't vote. So glad to see Jill York voted no on the tax hike!
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0 #3 independent voter 2018-04-08 23:32
Hey Terry, Why?
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-4 #2 Terry 2018-04-07 12:46
I WOULD NEVER VOTE FOR A democrat for anything!!!!!! That’s my opinion!!!
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+1 #1 independent voter 2018-04-06 20:53
So true, so true.
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