Senate Speaker Robert Stivers and House Speaker David Osborne discussed key issues facing the General Assembly in 2022 with Kentucky House Speaker and CEO Ashli Watts , at the 2022 Kentucky House Legislative Preview Conference.
Legislative leaders began by discussing the western Kentucky storms and the role the legislature will play in restoring those areas. Stivers and Osborne agreed that much of what communities, individuals and businesses will need remains to be seen, and while there will be an incredible amount of federal resources, there will always be areas that will need help. The legislature’s role will look to see how they can help the state return to normal and accelerate recovery, according to Stivers and Osborne.
A common theme of the day was the upcoming biennial budget and the potential for tax reform. “The Legislature will be as aggressive as possible to get things done on the budget,” Osborne said. He went on to explain how difficult it is to get a clear picture of revenues, as there are still federal stimulus measures to help the economy. Stivers noted that both chambers have worked hard to implement a 10-day viewing period to improve the process on the state’s most important policy document.
When it comes to tax reform, Stivers and Osborne believe there is great momentum in Kentucky heading into 2022.
Osborne noted that his House Republican caucus has 75 members, and that’s one of the biggest things the whole group has expressed they want to accomplish. He said while he often felt like the worst time in the world to do tax reform was underway when the budget was being crafted, he believes “this may be the best time to history for us to tackle this problem”. He noted that the state is expecting a budget surplus, and it’s exciting to be able to look at tax reform through that lens. “While it’s still incredibly difficult to get all lawmakers on the same page, I still see us moving in that direction (on tax reform) fairly quickly.”
Stivers said the concept of tax reform and creating a better economic environment, as other states have done, is a key area of focus in the state. “Some of the huge economic successes we’ve had in this state are the result of the tax code reforms we made in 2018.” Steves said. The Senate Speaker added that he believes now may be the right time to do things like reducing personal and corporate income taxes and potentially even bundling the gas tax with that. to make the stock potentially revenue-neutral.
Kentucky’s severe labor shortage is also something that must be addressed and factored into tax reform, leaders said. President Osborne said an important reason for tax reform is to seek to attract and retain an attractive workforce, as this is the main factor businesses consider when deciding where settle down. The president said the overall workforce is particularly bad in Kentucky because we have one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the country, suggesting the state is also considering a aid reform as a means of solving this problem.
Stivers pointed out that access to childcare was a huge issue they wanted to address with regards to labor shortages, but said he didn’t want everything to be handled by the government. “We want to hear from companies telling us what can be done and how everyone can work together to find the right solutions,” Stivers said.
When asked what the General Assembly would and would not do in 2022, Stivers and Osborne said they would not miss the opportunity to attempt comprehensive tax reform and would pass a state budget. clever.
Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates from the 2022 Legislative Preview Conference.