Saturday, March 02, 2002

State could find more money

Tax legislation changes considered in Senate

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Senate President David Williams cracked the door on Friday to legislation that could mean more money for strapped state coffers, but he was careful to insist there would be no tax increases.

        Mr. Williams said a freeze on state property tax rates would mean more money in future years, and a revision of the definition of business locations would also capture money that Kentucky should be receiving.

        Some changes could be made in tax laws that would mean “significant money and could not be classified as tax increases,” Mr. Williams said.

        Mr. Williams, a Burkesville Republican, leads a party whose membership has overwhelmingly signed pledges to oppose tax increases.

        A 1979 law placed a cap on state property tax receipts of a 4 percent increase each year. Because the value of property increases each year, the tax rate has declined steadily, from 27.9 cents per $100 of assessed value in 1979 to 13.6 cents in 2001.

        House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, agreed that a freeze on property tax rates could get a favorable look in the House.

        Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, chairman of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said this week he will propose some legislation to tinker with the state tax code. He declined to reveal many details, but new House bills must be introduced by Monday.

        Mr. Williams also said the state is losing money that it deserves from companies that do business in Kentucky, but avoid taxation because of the state's strict definitions. Kentucky requires a business to have a physical presence in Kentucky to be subject to some taxation.

        “We've been out-penciled by many of the tax experts in the various companies,” Mr. Williams said. “We need to get our fair share of taxes from companies that do business in this state.”

        Mr. Williams and Ms. Richards said during a weekly news conference that there is little chance the state will be getting more money from expanded gambling at racetracks.

        The eight tracks this week offered legislation that would let them install slot machines, which they said would mean $1.7 billion to the state in the next six years.

        But Mr. Williams said even if the bill gets out of the House he would ensure it was sent to an “unfriendly” committee in the Senate and he would vigorously oppose it.


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- State could find more money