Kentucky Has Big Tax Problems, No Real Hope

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (a D.C.-based “think tank”) has released a new report on Kentucky’s inadequate tax structure.

The report, Tax Reform in Kentucky: Serious Problems, Stark Choices, examines two key problems with Kentucky’s tax structure. It’s not only insufficient, failing to produce enough revenue for public services, but is also inequitable, forcing low-and-middle-income residents of the Commonwealth to pay more in taxes than wealthier individuals and families– relative to their incomes.

Two tax measures presented to the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue (last week) are also examined. Bill Farmer introduced House Bill 51 PHS (repeal personal and corporate income taxes, repeal limited liability tax, reduce sales tax to 5.5%), which would seriously exacerbate the main problems we’re facing by aiding the wealthy. And HB 262/HB 223 (raise taxes for the super-wealthy, offer tax credit based on earned income, reinstate estate tax, lowering taxes for the poor), presented by Jim Wayne, would improve the adequacy and equity of the system.

You’ll want to check the report out for yourself:


CLICK FOR PDF

Our favorite bit of the report? This bit about Farmer’s ridiculous HB 51, showing that had the legislation been implemented in 2007, the provisions would have:

  • Increased taxes markedly for the very poorest Kentuckians. Families and individuals with 2007 incomes below $14,000 would have, on average, paid $136 more in taxes had HB 51 PHS been in effect; this is the equivalent of 1.6 percent of their income on average.
  • Reduced the taxes paid by middle-class Kentuckians by roughly 1.1 percent of income on average. That is, Kentucky taxpayers with incomes ranging from $27,000 to $45,000 in 2007 would have seen their taxes go down by $373 on average if HB 51 PHS had been made law.
  • Reduced taxes dramatically for the very wealthiest Kentuckians. In 2007, the top 1 percent of Kentucky taxpayers consisted of individuals and families with incomes in excess of $329,000. These taxpayers would have received an average tax cut of $40,910 – or 4.4 percent of income – due to the changes contained in HB 51 PHS.

Obviously not a good thing for most Kentuckians.

What’s your favorite part of the report?

Observation: Let’s not hold our breath about real tax reform in Kentucky. It’s pretty clear that no one in Frankfort is going to answer our prayers.

Top Reporters Laugh at Mongiardo’s Poll

Wonder what it feels like to have the state’s top political reporters trashing your campaign’s poll on statewide television – literally laughing about it?

Let’s find out.

On Friday’s episode of Comment on Kentucky, Stephenie Steitzer, Ronnie Ellis and Pat Crowley ripped Daniel Mongiardo’s internal poll to shreds:




Oh snap!

Interesting remark from Ronnie Ellis, eh?

Be sure to watch the full program once KET updates its archives.

Just How Safe IS Kentucky’s Largest City?

Louisville is the 10th Safest city, according to new statistics from the FBI.

Here’s how we changed from 2007 to 2008:

  • Population: 629,679
  • Crime per capita: 10%
  • Violent Crime up 1.6%
  • Murder stayed constant.
  • Rape up 13.4%
  • Robbery down 7.8%
  • Assault up 9.2%
  • Property Crime down .4%
  • Arson up 3.7%

Las Vegas is #9, Boston #8, Denver #7, Honolulu #6, El Paso #5, San Diego #4, Los Angeles #3, San Jose #2, New York #1.

Um. Doesn’t sound so great, does it? We’re torn over these numbers.

Different Perspective on the State Budget Shortfall

On Monday we examined the projected state budget shortfall from David Williams’ perspective. Long story short, he says the shortfall is nowhere near $996 million but closer to $130 million (we agree, though it’s clear that the shortfall is closer to $1 billion than $100 million). Unfortunately for Williams, he’s only examining one year of the budget, ending with June 2009, and isn’t considering the second year (2010) of the biennium.

Even if Williams’ projection is correct? With his logic, that means we’re at a shortfall of at least $260 million. Plus the extra $220 million in calls on the Treasury, bringing us to $480 million. Which is way more like it.  Or is it $600 million?

But let’s take a look at the talking points the Governor’s office sent to state legislators this week. They provided them to us (again) in our meeting today as proof that there’s another side to the story.

  • The Consensus Forecasting Group is created pursuant to KRS 48.115 to develop the consensus revenue estimates for the Commonwealth for the General Fund and Road Fund.
  • The enacted estimates are the revenue estimates used by the General Assembly as the basis for appropriations made in the enacted branch budget bills (2009 HB 423, Section 1. (13)). The enacted estimate for the General Fund for Fiscal Year 2010, $9.418 billion, was adopted by the General Assembly, and therefore became the official revenue estimate for the Commonwealth for FY10. The FY10 budget enacted by the General Assembly for the Road Fund was $1.405 billion, and therefore became the official Road Fund revenue estimate for the Commonwealth for FY10.
  • The enacted estimates shall become the official revenue estimates of the Commonwealth upon the branch budget bills becoming law, and shall remain the official revenue estimates of the Commonwealth until revised by the Consensus Forecasting Group (2009 HB 423, Section 5.(5)). On May 29, 2009, the Consensus Forecasting Group gave us a new official revenue estimate for the General Fund for FY10 of $8.412 billion and a new official revenue estimate for the Road Fund for FY10 of $1.166 billion.
  • A revenue shortfall is defined as an official revenue estimate for either the General Fund or Road Fund that is less than the enacted estimate (2009 HB 423, Section 1.(18)). The difference between the enacted revenue estimate for FY10 for the General Fund ($9.418 billion) and the new official estimate for FY10 set forth by the Consensus Forecasting Group ($8.412 billion) is $1.005 billion or 10.7 percent. The difference between the enacted revenue estimate for FY10 for the Road Fund ($1.405 billion) and the new official estimate for FY10 set forth by the Consensus Forecasting Group ($1.166 billion) is $239 million or 17 percent.
  • Any revenue shortfall in the General Fund or Road Fund of greater than five percent (5%) shall require action by the General Assembly (2009 HB 423, Section 6.(3)).
  • The Fiscal Year 2009 – 2010 General Fund Budget Reduction Plan, as amended by HB 143 of the 2009 General Assembly, states: “If the actual or projected revenue shortfall is greater than five percent in aggregate, the Governor is not empowered nor directed to take necessary actions with respect to the Executive Branch budget units to balance the budget by such actions conforming with the criteria expressed in this Subpart. If, after passage of this Act, KRS 48.130 and 48.600 are amended, this Subpart shall be governed by KRS 48.130 and 48.600 as amended by the 2009 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly.” (2009 HB 423 amended KRS 48.130 and 48.600 as noted above, in part.)
  • The Fiscal Year 2009 – 2010 Road Fund Budget Reduction Plan, as amended by HB 536 of the 2009 General Assembly, states: “If the actual or projected revenue shortfall is greater than five percent in aggregate, the Governor is not empowered nor directed to take necessary actions with respect to the Transportation Cabinet’s budget units to balance the budget.” (2009 HB 536, Section 6, Subpart B.)

While Williams’ concerns about the budget are legitimate and should be considered as part of the discussion, he also should admit that he’s attempting to force Governor Steve Beshear to act unilaterally, something legislation prevents him from doing.

That $480 million (using Williams’ own logic) is nearly 6% of the biennial budget.  Or $600 million being greater than 7%.  As the bullet points above indicate, anything greater than 5% means the gubnuh can’t do anything without the help and direction of the legislature.

TGIF! Mongiardo Backlash Commenced Quickly

Happy Early Birthday to you-know-who!

Bruce Lunsford’s former spokesperson, Elisabeth Smith, has certainly gone a long way since the 2007 gubernatorial race in Kentucky. Check out her snarky quotes about Ralph Nader in the Washington Post. Lis is currently the communications director for Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign in Virginia. [WaPo]

She’s also the focus of a fancy article in The Nation! Such a shame the Beshear Administration let her slip through the cracks instead of bringing her in to the Kentucky Democratic Party. KDP would be in much better shape right now. [The Nation]

The Lawson-Nighbert closed hearing transcript has been ordered released by a federal judge. [Bluegrass Politics]

Go read Jonathan Meador’s take on the poll Daniel Mongiardo released yesterday. [LEO’s FatLip]

Speaking of the poll, Rick made a joke that actually made us laugh! [The ‘Ville Voice]

Don’t you love how Kim Geveden acts like a thousand bucks from a campaign donor to meet with Jack Conway is a bad idea? We didn’t hear him complaining when he begged coal operators to drop $4,600 for a moment with Daniel Mongiardo. Oh, and Kim? It’s not Jack Conway’s campaign that is engaging in negative personal attacks. It’s you, Daniel Mongiardo, Jim Pence, crazy Jim Anderson Stivers, Larry O’Bryan and the rest of your crew that’s rarely won a race. All of you. Personal attacks. [Pat Crowley]

Yesterday the Kentucky Forward Coalition held a press conference to discuss the unfairness in our tax system and the need for Governor Steve Beshear and legislators in Frankfort to do something about it. Unfortunately, there’s not going to be an overhaul of the tax system in the Bluegrass any time soon and not even the group of folks who met yesterday have offered solutions. Why? Lost cause. Not happening. [Press Release]

Ronnie Ellis has a bit more about the tax presser. [News & Tribune]

Where is FEMA? Certainly not helping out in eastern Kentucky. And what the crap is taking Kentucky so long to get this resolved? Three weeks is plenty long enough. [WKYT]

More on Daniel Mongiardo’s Internal Poll

Conway’s campaign responded:

“There is an old Kentucky saying that liars figure and figures lie,” Mark Riddle, Conway’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “A polling sub sample of 336 interviews in a major statewide election is not considered credible. It has a wildly high margin of error. It is curious and fair to ask why would they not release the rest of the poll? Who paid for the poll? And how were the questions asked and then pushed?”

Ouch?

Daniel Mongiardo Releases Internal Polling

In light of the latest discussion in Frankfort that Daniel Mongiardo has been asked to get out of the U.S. Senate race by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in exchange for a cushy job with the Obama Administration (Mongiardo reportedly says he’ll do it, so long as it’s a job where he has a personal driver), his campaign has released an interesting internal poll.

We’ll just share the entire email blast with you:

MONGIARDO HOLDS DOUBLE-DIGIT LEAD OVER CONWAY;
LEADS BY 2O PTS AMONG DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
Mongiardo Shows Strong Support Throughout Kentucky in First Dem Primary Poll
FRANKFORT— U.S. Senate candidate, Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo holds a twenty point lead among Democratic primary voters over Attorney General Jack Conway in the Democratic U.S. Senate Primary in Kentucky in the first released statewide primary poll.Conducted May 12-13, Mongiardo wins 46% of the vote to Conway’s 26% among Democrats who voted in either the 2008 or 2007 Democratic primaries. Among registered Democrats, Mongiardo wins by 15 points. Mongiardo gets 43% of the vote, Conway has 28%, with 29% undecided. The poll conducted by Garin Hart Yang Research among 336 registered Democrats has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.4%

Kentucky Democrats want someone with a record of standing up for working families—whether in Louisville, Hazard or Paducah—and that’s why grassroot Democrats are supporting Daniel Mongiardo. Whether fighting for affordable health care, clean Kentucky coal, or taking on Jim Bunning in 2004, Daniel Mongiardo has shown that regardless of the odds he will fight hard to improve the lives of Kentucky families, said Kim Geveden, Mongiardo’s spokesman.

Mongiardo shows strong statewide support, but shows particular strength outside the Louisville media market where he has a nearly 30 pt. lead over Conway (49-22). In Conway’s political base in the Louisville media market, Mongiardo s runs competitively holding Conway to 42% of the vote and even has a slight lead in the Louisville media collar counties outside Jefferson Co.

Daniel Mongiardo’s impressive lead reflects strong support among grassroots Democrats, who know that despite overwhelming odds Daniel Mongiardo almost beat Jim Bunning in 2004 and that in 2010 Daniel Mongiardo is going to finish what he started by winning this race for Kentucky families whether against Jim Bunning or whoever is named as his relief pitcher, said Geveden.

And here’s the memo from GarinHartYang, Rod Blagojevich’s friends and pollster:


CLICK TO ENLARGE

The memo alleges, without providing cross tabs or any necessary information (like whether or not positive profiles were read to participants to help jack the numbers up, like Greg Fischer loved to do – keep in mind that Kim Geveden also worked for Fischer) to validate the numbers, that Mongiardo holds a 43 to 28 lead over Jack Conway, with most of his support outside of the cities. The stickler, though, is that there are a whopping 29% of undecideds.

Let’s also consider a few points before you swallow everything hook, line and sinker:

  • The election is more than a year away.
  • The poll included an unusually small sample of just 336 Democrats.
  • The margin of error is rather high at plus or minus 5.4%.

While definitely possible to get a representative sample of potential voters, most polling includes much larger sample sizes than 300 and the margins of error– even for an operation like SurveyUSA and the polling outfit the Courier-Journal utilizes– never has a margin of error of more than 3 or 4 percent.

So take these numbers with a heavy grain of salt.