Op-Ed

Steve Beshear: Bad time to raise taxes

Gov. Steve Beshear
Gov. Steve Beshear

My position on taxes is clear and concise, strong and unwavering:

I do not and will not support any significant broad-based tax increase, not in these difficult economic times.

Our families and businesses do not need a heavier burden as they struggle to not only survive but also to lay the foundation for future success.

We continue to show tangible progress in efforts to turn the economy around by creating jobs and helping Kentucky companies expand, and any such broad-based tax increase would jeopardize that momentum.

There's lots of talk these days about tax reform.

However, if you ask 10 people what that phrase means, you will get 10 different answers. I am always open to ideas about how to make our tax laws more fair and more in tune with Kentucky's economy, but during this historic economic recession no such reform should include broad-based tax increases on Kentucky's families and businesses.

My top priority has been to act aggressively to create and retain jobs, a key component of which is our business tax climate.

In October, the national Tax Foundation ranked Kentucky's business tax climate 19th best in the nation, up an incredible 15 spots since 2009. We're ahead of neighbors Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.

We can be proud of that ranking. More importantly, it shows independent approval of the strategic and sound approaches we've taken to date to address our revenue problems, approaches that have been carefully implemented to limit future damage to our economy.

Putting our people to work must be our top concern. That's been my strategy, and it's a strategy that's indisputably working.

In the summer of 2009, I worked with the General Assembly to win passage of my proposed overhaul of Kentucky's economic incentives toolbox, sharpening tools that had grown dull and rusty and replacing those that were obsolete. In particular, we improved our ability to work with existing businesses.

In the year and a half since passage of the Incentives for a New Kentucky legislation, 229 projects have received preliminary approval for one or more of its programs.

Of those, 223 have either begun or are still planning an investment in Kentucky.

These 223 active projects represent a potential investment of more than $2.1 billion and could create over 13,500 jobs, while helping to retain an additional 4,820 existing Kentucky jobs.

Those are big numbers, and we expect them to grow.

It's no coincidence that the economic consulting firm Moody's Economy.com — in its jobs forecast for the coming year — predicted that only four other states would experience higher percentage job growth than the commonwealth.

And it's no coincidence that in Forbes' fifth-annual ranking of best places to do business, Kentucky improved by 12 places in 2010 from 2009. Only two other states experienced greater improvement.

We're not out of the woods yet, but we're getting there. And I will not support tax increases which will jeopardize that momentum.

Steve Beshear is the governor of Kentucky.

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