LEXINGTON — Reforming Kentucky’s tax code to improve the business climate was the main message Tuesday from the four Republican gubernatorial candidates at the Kentucky Association of Realtors Gubernatorial Candidate Forum in Lexington.
A majority of the candidates at the forum remarked on the need to adjust income and corporate taxing structure in the commonwealth with several of the four men highlighting Tennessee, which does not charge residents an income tax.
Matt Bevin, who filed just hours before the deadline, told association members that it’s time to overhaul the state’s “antiquated” tax system.
“The fact that we still have the death tax in this state like we do is insane,” Bevin said. “We incent people with money to leave this state when they get older.”
Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, who owns land in both Kentucky and Tennessee, advocated changing the business climate in Kentucky to compete with states like Tennessee.
“Over the last 15 years, the land in Tennessee has appreciated significantly more than the land in Kentucky,” said Comer, who is the early frontrunner in polling. “It’s because the difference of the business climate in Tennessee versus Kentucky.”
Former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott zigged where the other candidates had zagged on the issue of Tennessee’s taxing system.
“Tennessee taxes corporations at 6 and a half percent,” Scott said. “We beat them by a half percent and my plan is to drop it down to five for corporations because that would keep us at number two in our eight state competitive region.”
Former Louisville Metro Council member, Hal Heiner continued his mantra for a Frankfort outsider to address the states many issues, including decreasing personal income tax rates and eliminating some of the obsolete, antiquated tax regulations that slow down growth in the state.
“We have to change Frankfort,” Heiner said. “We cannot stay on the path that we are on of kicking the can down the road and counting that as progress if we are going to remain the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
The primary election is May 19.