Some of the issues Commerce Lexington and regional leaders will be advocating for this session to support the Regional Competitiveness Strategy include:
State Tax Reform: Commerce Lexington has been supportive of the General Assembly’s efforts to modernize the state’s tax code by creating a process to lower the individual income tax over time by expanding the sales tax base. These changes have helped move Kentucky from #36 in 2018 to #18 in 2023 in the Tax Foundation’s business tax climate rankings. This session, we will continue to encourage lawmakers to monitor the impact of tax reform and avoid adding any new taxes on business inputs that negatively impact competitiveness for jobs in key sectors and make Kentucky an economic outlier with how surrounding states treat businesses.
Local Government Tax Modernization: Commerce Lexington supports an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution, and enabling legislation, that would modernize Kentucky’s local government tax structure. Kentucky’s Constitution restricts local government taxes to three areas and does not allow for other options reflective of a changing economy like local sales tax. Commerce Lexington supports allowing the General Assembly the ability to create a new framework that provides more diverse options for revenue generation and provides local communities with the flexibility to decide the local tax structure that works best to meet their unique community needs.
Kentucky Product Development Initiative: In 2022, the Kentucky General Assembly invested $100 million in the Kentucky Product Development Initiative (KPDI) to help accelerate the development of more land and buildings for jobs across the state. For our region, KPDI funding is supporting 9 job site projects and $30M in local and state investment. One of the competitive disadvantages for the Greater Lexington region is the lack of shovel ready land for jobs, and the development of a 500–1000-acre mega site. Commerce Lexington and regional leaders will ask legislators to continue to invest in the KPDI program and consider flexibility in eligible projects to include regional economic development marketing.
Talent Marketing Funding: Our region is lagging the national average in labor force growth, specifically the number of young professionals living and working in the region. Through the Regional Competitiveness Strategy, regional leaders are working to attract and retain 1,500 more young professionals each year by elevating marketing to targeted cities and increasing job connections for students. Many states are making investments in talent attraction marketing efforts to amplify messaging about quality of life and job opportunities. Commerce Lexington supports the General Assembly investing in funding for a talent attraction marketing grant program to help support regional economic development.
Housing Affordability: Rapidly rising home prices combined with low inventory in Fayette County and the region are pricing families, essential workers, and first-time homebuyers out of the market. Providing adequate levels of housing to meet the needs of the region’s workforce is an issue of concern for expanding and relocating companies and the attraction of young professionals. At the state level, Commerce Lexington will support efforts to increase funding for housing affordability projects for Lexington and the region, including advocacy to the Kentucky Housing Corporation to ensure Lexington can more fairly compete for those resources based on the unique challenges of the community such as land availability. We also support the General Assembly allocating additional funding to support affordable housing projects aimed at meeting the missing middle or workforce housing needs.
Transportation Funding: Thriving communities must be able to move workers, provide services and transport products to market quickly and safely. Commerce Lexington supports a regional transportation approach, and continued state investments in critical road, rail, and air infrastructure projects within the nine-county region to improve interconnectivity and access. We support modernizing the transportation funding distribution model to make it more equitable for areas with higher levels of transportation activity and needs. Commerce Lexington further supports modernizing the funding infrastructure to better reflect the current state of transportation as well as anticipate future needs of our transportation systems.
Education Funding: Commerce Lexington supports the General Assembly’s continued investments in public K-12 and higher education to support economic development and workforce development in the 9-county region. This includes investments in capital projects, performance-based funding model, work-ready scholarships, dual credit scholarships, and training programs.
The 2024 Regular Session is scheduled to conclude on April 15. Commerce Lexington urges members to stay connected on state, local and federal policy issues during the year. Regular email updates will be provided to members throughout the year to keep business updated on what’s happening in City Hall, Frankfort and Washington, D.C. and the impact on the Greater Lexington region.
If you have questions, need assistance with a policy issue, or would like to get involved with advocacy efforts, contact Andi Johnson, Chief Policy Officer and Director of Regional Engagement.