Legislators held the first interim committee hearings on Thursday at the Northern Kentucky Conference Center in Covington. Lawmakers discussed The Brent Spence Bridge Project and tax relief provisions of House Bill 8.
The Interim Joint Committee on Transportation heard testimony about the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project. Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana (OKI) Regional Council of Governments CEO Mark Policinski stressed the need for modern infrastructure especially when comparing the U.S. to its global counterparts. He acknowledged state and federal cooperation regarding leveraging funds and support to advance the project.
Last month, Kentucky and Ohio submitted a request for nearly $2 billion in federal funding for a new bridge. Kentucky League of Cities Executive Director/CEO J.D. Chaney submitted a letter on behalf of KLC in support of the grant application. More than 200 cities and other organizations also presented letters backing the effort. Kentucky lawmakers have allocated $250 million in potential matching funds for major transportation projects including the Brent Spence Bridge.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Deputy Secretary Mike Hancock reiterated that the $2.9 billion price tag was feasible due to the federal dollars provided as well as each state paying its share for the project. He said the Cabinet is currently preparing the project management plan. Hancock added that both states will host a forum next week for interested contractors. The Cabinet has identified eight prospective construction teams, and Hancock said there is an opportunity to invest in local businesses.
The Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue heard testimony from Legislative Research Committee Staff Administrator Jennifer Hays regarding the implementation of House Bill 8. The tax overhaul measure allows for incremental elimination of the state’s individual income tax if Kentucky reaches certain benchmarks.
Hays reported that results will not be official until September, but it appears the state may reach two benchmarks in the current fiscal year. If one requirement holds, she said that individual income tax rates will reduce from 5% to 4.5% on January 1, 2023. If Kentucky meets a second benchmark during the current year, the General Assembly could act in January to reduce the individual income tax rate to 4%.
Committee Cochair Senator Chris McDaniel (R-Ryland Heights) asked Hays to return for the July 6 meeting to continue updating legislators.
President and CEO of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED Lee Crume testified before the Interim Joint Committee on Banking and Insurance. Crume focused on legislation that updated local license fees for motor vehicle sharing and rentals. Lawmakers established the Motor Vehicle License Fee (MVLF) in 1994 to collect on car rentals. The rate had not changed since being established, and it was not designed to address technological advancements.
HB 8 included carsharing platforms in the MVLF, and the Senate added language to address Uber, Lyft, and transportation network companies. Crume explained that these are discretionary spending categories, and visitors from other communities will pay a large portion of the fees. He added that the updated legislation should significantly increase MVLF revenues.