In a move that surprised no one, the Kentucky House today passed their top priority bill, HB1, almost completely along party lines. The final vote was 79-19, with Ashley Tackett Lafferty voting with the Repubs to pass the bill.
Last year, the Republicans cut the state’s income tax rate from 5% to 4.5%, effective on January 1 of this year. This year’s bill cuts the rate still further, to 4% on January 1 of next year.
A large coalition of Kentucky organizations rallied in Frankfort yesterday to beg the Republicans to take the current surplus and invest in the needs of the state. The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy produced multiple graphs showing that the tax cut went almost exclusively to the very rich, and that this income tax cut would cost the state’s budget more than we spend on all of higher education.
Then today, Democrat after Democrat stood on the floor of the House and pointed out the dangers of this bill: counting on these surpluses to continue, strangling funding for education and health care services. They pointed out that “trickle-down” economics doesn’t work, has never worked, and causes debacles like the one in Kansas.
Republicans were unmoved. They said that this bill would make the state “more competetive,” and would result in an even more robust economy. They pooh-poohed the concerns that were raise, and exulted when the bill finally passed.
If the dire scenario predicted by economists and Democrats comes true, and Kentucky becomes the next Kansas, pay attention to which legislators caused it to happen: all the Republicans serving in the House last year and this, plus Ashley Tackett Lafferty, the only Dem to vote for the bill.