TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

April 1, 2013

Trying to get to bottom of ‘revenue neutral’

CORBIN — You would think three men smart enough to get themselves elected governor, speaker of the house and president of the Senate could answer a simple question.

“How can a measure which produces $100 million in new revenue be revenue neutral?”

See, the funding plan to finance annual payments for the reformed pension plan reduces some taxes while increasing others — “revenue neutral,” according to Gov. Steve Beshear, Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers.

But the plan increases state revenues by somewhere between $90 million and $100 million. The biggest tax cut can be utilized only by those who purchase a new car while trading in an old vehicle.

The real “cuts” are cuts in tax credits and deductions for personal income — uh, that means many of you will pay MORE, not less.

As The Courier-Journal’s Mike Wynn put it to Beshear at a hastily called press conference after the pension bill passed: “Isn’t this a tax increase for everyone except someone buying a new car?”

Wynn fared no better than the rest of us. Beshear responded by talking about some changes in technical and compliance tax laws which happened to match recommendations of the now nearly forgotten Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform. But he did not directly answer Wynn’s question.

Beshear and legislators were wise to specify funding sources for the increased pension contributions (they had to increase them because for so many years they didn’t pay the bill for benefits they’d created).

The pension reform itself — placing new hires into a half defined benefit, half hybrid cash balance plan — seems a reasonable compromise. At the same time, I understand public employee groups’ displeasure. After all, unlike the legislature and the budgets offered by the last three governors, the employees had made their full contributions into the system.

Nevertheless it is the sort of political compromise which characterizes effective government and as Beshear, Stumbo and Stivers proudly trumpeted, it shows bipartisanship.

But it ain’t revenue neutral.

I don’t object to the new money. We get what we pay for. Given the need to spend more on education and human services, it seems the right and prudent thing to do. I just think politicians should talk straight to the public.

Reporters asked all three men how a measure which raises close to $100 million the state didn’t have before the bill passed could be “revenue neutral” — and we never got an answer.

I finally put it this way to Stivers: “By definition, by logic, by basic math — how can you say something is revenue neutral when it raises $100 million which we didn’t have before you passed the bill?”

Stivers’ response was (slightly) less evasive than Beshear’s or Stumbo’s. He said it was “tax rate neutral” because it reduced rates for some while balancing those reductions with the income tax deduction and credit reductions. At least he didn’t try again to claim it was revenue neutral.

Look, Beshear and legislators should be commended for overcoming partisan differences and genuine philosophical differences to address a serious problem. Such compromise always contains things hard to swallow by all sides, and it shows Kentucky’s policy makers really can work together to deal with issues confronting the state.

Stumbo and Stivers correctly praised Beshear’s involvement and persistence. Beshear and Stumbo praised Stivers for the improved tone in the Senate. Stumbo’s political and negotiating skills managed to goad the Senate into agreeing to a funding plan while managing its passage by reluctant House Democrats.

All three men deserve credit. But a simple question deserves a simple, direct and honest answer.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort, Ky. He may be contacted by email at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • LIKE IT OR NOT: MLB's All Star effort was a bust

    With the 85th edition of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in the books, I have to say I feel like the whole thing was a complete bust.

    July 18, 2014

  • THE WAY IT IS: Some local teams can make a run

    Well folks, our Little League All-Star action is beginning to wind down, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see two of the Tri-County’s resp

    July 17, 2014

  • LIKE IT OR NOT: It's been a very busy summer

    While a lot of people would expect the local sports scene to slow down in the Tri-County in the summer time, that’s not usually the case for us here at the Times-Tribune.

    July 16, 2014

  • John Ross.jpg May we all cherish those few WWII vets who still live

    I watch this old BBC program pretty often called “Are You Being Served?” It’s mostly out of syndication — what shows remain can be seen most often through PBS.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0502 Bobbie Poynter So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu

    I never have been very good at saying goodbye — family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, community — for years you’ve had my back and in turn, I believe I’ve had yours.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie Ellis.jpg ‘Uh hummm!’ It’s been an interesting week

    One column can’t cover everything from a busy week of political events, but here are some quick takeaways from last week.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Let’s multiply our numbers like fleas do

    Last Saturday, my wife, Carmen, and I spent the day at the Kings Island theme park near Cincinnati, Ohio.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Not an earthly trace

    Just married (1897) and in his late 20’s, my grandfather was determined to make a living on a hillside farm covered in wilderness; much as his father had done before him in 1846  when he arrived from Germany.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brad Hall.jpg Col. Mustard with the candlestick in Heaven

    One of my favorite movies is the murder mystery comedy “Clue,” which is based on the popular board game of the same name.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Burkhart.jpg Now or Never

    A story is told of an old widower who decided it was time to find a new wife. He chose to look for this new bride through the obituaries column; identifying new widows.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Featured Ads
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide