Politics & Government

Claim that David Williams wants grocery tax false

The statement: "Placing a tax on groceries — as proposed by David Williams ... is a tax that I and other Republicans strongly oppose."

Bobbie Holsclaw, in a Feb. 1 news release

The ruling: False

The facts: Senate President David Williams, who is running against Jefferson Holsclaw, the Jefferson County clerk, and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett in the May 17 Republican primary election for governor, did not propose a sales tax on groceries.

During the current legislative session, Williams is pushing a bill that would set up a council to recommend changes to Kentucky's tax system, which has long been criticized by conservatives and liberals.

Many conservatives say the state's income tax hampers economic growth because it deters business owners from locating in the state.

Many liberals say the state's tax structure doesn't adequately tax the growing service sector of the economy, thus limiting funding to vital government services such as education and health care.

Under Senate Bill 1, a council of independent economists would make a recommendation for the 2012 General Assembly to consider on an up-or-down vote without any amendments.

Williams has said his idea for the council is modeled on one in Georgia, where a council has recommended eliminating many sales tax exemptions, including one for groceries.

Holsclaw's campaign spokesman, Sam Edelen, said Holsclaw based her claim on a Jan. 30 article in The Courier-Journal that said Williams looked to Georgia's tax council "as a model for his own approach to comprehensive tax reform."

"It takes no great leap to say that Williams wants taxes on groceries," said Mike Karem, who is advising the Holsclaw campaign. "I think the public will see it that way."

However, Williams has never said he wants the Kentucky council to propose eliminating Kentucky's sales tax exemption on groceries. And Williams has not pledged to vote for whatever plan the Kentucky council might propose.


Senate Bill 1 in Kentucky’s 2011 General Assembly,

The Courier-Journal, “Kentucky Senate President looks to Georgia for tax plan,” Jan. 30, 2011.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Tax council recommends grocery tax, lower income taxes,” Jan. 7, 2011.

WAVE3.com, “Bobbie Holsclaw signs no-tax pledge,” Feb. 2, 2011.

E-mail message from Sam Edelen, spokesman for Bobbie Holsclaw campaign, Feb. 7, 2011.

Telephone interview with Mike Karem, advisor for Bobbie Holsclaw campaign, Feb. 9, 2011.

Interview with Senate President David Williams, Feb. 8, 2011.