Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s Push for Local Option Sales Tax Criticized From the Left

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is continuing his push for the local option sales tax, which would let communities vote on temporary sales tax increases to fund projects. But Fischer, a Democrat,  is facing opposition to the plan—from the left.

In a 15-minute pitch in Frankfort, Fischer extolled the civic virtues of a sales tax that he says would be used to fund local projects chosen by committee and placed on a ballot before voters.

“We need additional capital sources. In the case of Louisville, 11 years ago four percent of our general fund was for pensions,” Fischer said. “Today it’s 15 percent. So it’s like a business, we’ve had an 11 percent increase in our expenses, but we haven’t been able to raise our prices; that is, we haven’t had a tax increase.”

But state Rep. Jim Wayne, a fellow Democrat from Louisville, cited a study that showed the local option means lower income residents would pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than wealthier residents.

“All sales taxes hurt the poor and working class much, much more than they hurt the wealthy people. And the wealthy people know that,” Wayne said. “That’s why these taxes are pushed by the wealthy, and the corporate elite and the power elite in Jefferson County.”

Fischer evaded questions about this aspect of the tax, and indicated that the measure has support from the Louisville Defender, an African-American newspaper in Louisville.

Lawmakers will debate the bill further next week.

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