Today a panel of economic experts is expected to unveil their estimate of Kentucky's budget shortfall for the next fiscal year. Governor Steve Beshear and administration officials seem to agree that the shortfall for the fiscal year starting July 1 could be about $1 billion. For context, the state's budget in the coming fiscal year is $9.3 billion, so it's clear that, unless revenue is raised, a significant portion of the state's programs and services will be on the chopping block.
Instead of accepting spending cuts as the only option for dealing with the coming shortfall, this week "Kentucky Forward" was launched. This coalition of labor, social service, community, and religious organizations, united behind a set of progressive tax policy principles, called upon the Governor to call a special session and put progressive tax reform on the legislative agenda. ITEP's comments during the coalition's launch about the need for tax reform can be found here.
Stay tuned. Next week a special joint meeting of the House and Senate budget committees will hear two tax reform bills. One is largely modeled after the so called "fair tax" and would eliminate the state's income tax and replace the revenue with new sales taxes. The other is a comprehensive tax reform bill that would make the Commonwealth's income tax more progressive as well as broaden the sales tax base to include more services.