Tax Reform: An Ongoing Policy Debate

November 8, 2017

After the 2016 elections, when Republicans gained control of both legislative chambers and the executive branch of government in Kentucky and in Washington, DC, it was a good bet that major tax cuts would soon follow. President Donald Trump made tax reform one of three top priorities for his administration, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin promised a special legislative session in 2017 to simultaneously tackle tax and pension reform.

But then political realities set in.

U.S. Senate Republicans failed in multiple attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which called into question their ability to garner enough votes from party moderates and hard-core fiscal conservatives to pass a tax reform plan.

And in Frankfort, the gravity of the public pension crisis has pushed the idea of tax reform to the back burner – for now.

But there is no shortage of tax reform ideas circulating among state and federal GOP leaders and other politicians.

KET’s Kentucky Tonight explored ideas for overhauling tax codes in the commonwealth as well as a Republican plan released late last month to cut taxes at the national level. The guests were economics professors John Garen of the University of Kentucky and Chris Phillips of Somerset Community College; Jordan Harris, co-executive director of the Pegasus Institute; and Pam Thomas, senior fellow at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.