FRANKFORT - Gov. Steve Beshear renewed his push Tuesday night for revamping Kentucky's tax system and legalizing expanded gambling, saying they're the only sources available to tap for significant new revenues to meet pressing needs after years of budget cuts.
In his annual State of the Commonwealth speech to a joint session of the House and Senate, Beshear said he will present a tax modernization plan with specific recommendations to update the tax code.
"I realize that tax modernization is a sensitive topic, especially in an election year," the Democratic governor said. "But the people elected us to tackle difficult issues."
Beshear said the tax modernization package he presents will include a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Kentucky cities and counties the authority to impose a local sales tax.
The other potential pool of sizable new revenue can spring forth from expanded gambling, Beshear said.
Tax reform and expanding gambling are perennial issues that made little or no headway with Kentucky lawmakers in the past.
Kentucky has received results from more than a dozen studies of its tax system since 1982, Beshear said, the latest being from a group headed by Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson that proposed an array of changes, including lowering the top individual and corporate tax rates.