Jefferson County hosts Tax Justice Meet and Greet with legislators

There hasn’t been a week that’s gone by this legislative session without our deeply underfunded state budget making the news. Kentuckians have felt the impact of more than $1.6 billion in budget cuts since 2008 and are concerned about possible cuts this year. KFTC members know that for us to make our vision for Kentucky a reality, we need tax reform that is fair, adequate, and sustainable because so much of our daily lives is made possible by the taxes we pay. With the need for revenue reform in mind, the Jefferson County KFTC Chapter hosted a Tax Justice Legislative Meet and Greet on February 26 to discuss these issues with their legislators.

Twenty-five community members participated in the Meet and Greet, including KFTC members, people new to KFTC, allies with Metropolitan Housing Coalition, Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky, CLOUT, League of Women Voters of Louisville, and Kentucky Retired Teachers Association, along with a few candidates running for local and state office. Many in the room came because they wanted to share their concerns while others wanted to hear from legislators. KFTC member Shekinah Lavalle said she wanted “to hear a little from legislators about what they hoped to accomplish in terms of raising revenue in Kentucky to keep some of our most valued institutions afloat.” 

Rep. Owens, Rep. Riner, and Rep. Meeks participated in the discussion (many other Jefferson County legislators sent their regrets for not being able to make it). Members asked questions ranging from what will be in the House’s budget to how do we move tax reform forward and more. “You’re probably not going to like our budget, but you’ll like it more than his [Gov. Bevin’s],” said Rep. Owens. “We are going to have a problem until we do tax modernization,” citing lack of current budget resources.

“The governor has proposed cuts for everybody, so people have to band together,” said Rep. Owens, saying that the push for reform will need to come from the ground up.

Rep. Riner touched on the importance of educating the public and others in the legislature on this issue, showing appreciation for the work KFTC does along these lines. “You’re doing a good job. You’re bringing people back into the equation,” said Rep. Riner.

Before the meeting’s end, members discussed next steps, including learning more about Kentucky Together and sharing their campaign videos. Members were also encouraged to contact legislators who did not make it to share what they learned and what they want to see when it comes to the budget and tax reform. 

Reflecting on the meeting, Lavalle said, “I always hope that our conversations with legislators on this topic embolden them to take the lead on this issue. I'd like to see pro-revenue legislators take turns sticking their necks out on the tax plan that Rep. Wayne puts out every year, so that they can demonstrate some shared responsibility on this issue.  I'd also like to see the Democrats in Louisville take a collective position on building revenue.”

Nick Clark, a KFTC member who has lobbied multiple times in Frankfort this year on tax reform, said, “What I took away from this was the only real path of change comes through the people. We need to educate and organize people around the issue of tax reform so we can make sure everyone is getting a fair deal and to fund the future of our state. We also need leaders who aren’t just with us on the issues but have political courage.”

If you would like to learn how to learn more and take action on tax reform, contact Beth Bissmeyer at bethbissmeyer@kftc.org or (859) 314-2044.

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