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Raise Your Voice About Kentucky's Budget & Clean Energy

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Jun 05, 2012 02:35 PM

Renewable energy and energy efficiency offer real opportunities for Kentucky to put people to work and get our economy back on track, curb our energy costs, and improve our health and well-being. A study released last year by Synapse Energy Economics suggested that Kentucky can create 28,000 jobs in 10 years in this sector. Tax policy is an essential tool to capitalize on Kentucky's clean energy potential.

A Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform has been appointed to study and build consensus around tax reforms that meet the guidelines of fairness, competitiveness, simplicity and compliance, elasticity and adequacy.  

As part of the process, the Commission will be holding Public Meetings across Kentucky. Kentuckians are invited to share their best ideas about needed state tax reforms--ideas that will shape the Commission's recommendations for the 2013 General Assembly.

Clean energy development is an important opportunity for the state's future that tax policy can help support. Use your voice to highlight the important connection between the state budget and the growth of sustainable energy in Kentucky.


Please plan to speak up in the meeting near you!

Blue Ribbon Commission Meetings

Southern Kentucky/Bowling Green: Tuesday June 19, 6-8 pm 
-- Greenwood High School Auditorium, 5065 Scottsville Road, Bowling Green

Louisville Area: Tuesday July 10, 6-8 pm -- 
Location TBA

Northern Kentucky: Tuesday July 24, 6-8 pm
 -- Student Union Ballroom, 20 Kenton Drive, Highland Heights

East KY: Tuesday Aug 7, 6-8 pm 
-- Big Sandy Community & Technical College, Gearheart Auditorium,1 Bert T Combs Drive, Prestonsburg
Central Kentucky/Lexington: Tuesday Aug 21, 6-8 pm
 Bryan Station High School, 201 Eastin   Road, Lexington

Here are some ideas about how about how our tax policy that can advance and support sustainable energy solutions:

1. Increase revenue fairly in order to improve funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, while not placing additional burden on those Kentuckians already hit hardest by rising energy costs.

Kentucky has had successful programs that weatherize homes, provide energy audits, and support pilot projects around renewable energy and energy efficiency.  The state plays an important role in helping catalyze new ideas and provide energy services to those not otherwise served, including low-income Kentuckians. Some of those efforts have been funded with Recovery Act and other federal monies. But that funding has now ended or been cut, and the state lacks the resources to continue those successful efforts and maintain our momentum. That is one reason why any tax reform effort should result in more revenue for these needs in addition to the state's many other needs in education, health and other areas.

Any plan to raise revenue should also adhere to the Commission's stated guideline of fairness. Low and moderate income Kentuckians are already hardest hit by the rapidly rising costs of energy in our state. They should benefit from additional revenue to support sustainable, cost-curbing energy efforts, not shoulder the costs.
 
2. Include targeted incentives to clean energy development as part of tax reform.

Many consumer investments in clean energy make good economic sense along with the benefits they provide for health and the environment. But sometimes the up-front cost of those investments can be a barrier to consumers and businesses. Well-designed, targeted incentives that reduce the cost to consumers of investments in things like insulation, energy efficient appliances, and small-scale renewable energy systems can help overcome those barriers, and would be a positive addition to a tax reform plan.
 
3. Eliminate unfair subsidies to polluting energy sources in a tax reform plan.

Kentucky provides tax subsidies that unfairly give preference to fossil fuels, and taxes the severance of coal at levels lower than many other states and lower than their true cost to our communities. The state's tax expenditure report lists 19 different tax preferences under the category of "Energy Development and Coal Industry Support" and 14 under the category "Environmental Conservation and Historical Preservation," many of which are also energy or coal related. But these tax preferences receive practically no scrutiny. We could save money for needed investments by closely reviewing these and other tax preferences and eliminating those that move Kentucky in the wrong direction.

 

Written Comments

You can leave written comments on the topic at the Commission's website.

Some Additional Resources:
Kentucky Tax Expenditure Report: Details just what we have been spending our money on over the years.

Impact of Coal on Kentucky’s State Budget:  Details that Kentucky spent $115 million more on coal (through direct spending and tax breaks) than we brought in from revenue from coal in 2006. By Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.

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