House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover, who is expected to be House speaker in the 2017 General Assembly with the Republican takeover Tuesday of the state House, and Gov. Matt Bevin said Wednesday the chamber will enact comprehensive tax reform.
Hoover, R-Jamestown, also said on The Leland Conway Show on WHAS-AM in Louisville that his personal goal for a new state House is “to change the tone in Frankfort.” Current and new House Republicans are to meet Thursday to decide what issues will be taken up in next year’s legislative session that begins in January, he said.
More than a third of the House Republicans will be new members, Hoover said.
Hoover, an attorney who has been in the House since 1997, is in line to become the top leader in the 100-member House, given the GOP’s overwhelming victories in House elections.
Republicans in the chamber upped their numbers from 47 to 64, giving them a super majority needed to approve constitutional amendments and make tax changes in 30-day sessions in odd-numbered years. Democratic ranks, meanwhile, fell from 53 to 36.
The 17 Democratic incumbents ousted from the House Tuesday included Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg, who has been speaker since 2009.
Republicans now control the House, the Senate and the governor’s office.
Gov. Matt Bevin campaigned hard to flip control of the House over the course of the election and was ecstatic during an interview with WHAS radio Wednesday morning.
Bevin pledged that there would be comprehensive tax reform in 2017.
“This will come and everything is going to be on the table,” Bevin said. “And I do believe we have to move to a more consumption-based economy and less of a production-based economy.”
Bevin also promised to deliver legislation that allows non-union employees to work in unionized workplaces, reforms the state’s civil lawsuit system, and allows charter schools. He also promised to eliminate the so-called “common core” education standards.
“If we can just get out of our own way and live up to our own potential,” Bevin said, “that’s what our voters are begging for.”
In his expected new role, Hoover said the legislature will approve comprehensive tax reform. But Hoover said that may not happen in the 30-day legislative session in 2017, but in the 60-day session in 2018. That could make reform more difficult to achieve with all 100 House seats up for grabs again in 2018.
“You know, we are going to do that,” said Hoover, adding that there already is “behind-the-scenes” work on changing Kentucky’s tax code.
Both Bevin and Hoover expressed a desire to make Kentucky competitive economically with the states that surround it.
“We can’t compete with Indiana and all the other states unless we get it done and we are going to get it done,” Hoover said.
Hoover also said the legislature will provide more transparency on legislative pensions. He noted that Republicans in the House have tried to force a vote on the issue but were rebuffed by Democrats.
“I think we are going to get that done in the upcoming session,” he added.
As for his personal goal to change the tone in Frankfort, Hoover said, “We are going to do that as a new majority because we have been in the minority and we understand how frustrating it is. We know when things are not done fairly, when things are not done openly and transparently. We are going to change the process. We are going to approach it from a different level.”
Hoover acknowledged Wednesday morning that he recognized “the awesome responsibility that we have.”