MY WORD: Why isn’t Kentucky more business friendly?

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By Robert Pearce

According to Laffer and Associates, the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. are Raleigh, N.C., Austin, Texas, Las Vegas, Nev., Orlando, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. All are low-tax, business friendly states. Areas such as Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, N.Y., Providence, R.I., and Rochester, N.Y., are among the highest population losers.

States in the Southeast and Sun Belt are reducing tax rates and easing regulation and offering right-to-work laws. Florida, Texas and Tennessee already impose no income tax, and Louisiana, North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma and Indiana are studying areas to eliminate theirs along with estate taxes. It’s called pro-growth.

The IRS imposes no death taxes on estates of less than $5 million and has decided that $250,000 annual income constitutes high income. Sadly my family doesn’t qualify for either number. If we did, we probably would change our official residence to Florida, as so many Kentuckians have already done.

Ask yourself, honestly: If you could pick your neighbors would you choose those who are wealthy by honest means or those bordering poverty level?

My guess is this shift in population also is influenced by states that have elected meaningful tort reform. Why haven’t we adapted that part of English law that says “loser pays”? To assure this, there should be a required bond of, say, $100,000 to be posted before the suit is filed.

The bonding company would want to look at the brief. If it were to determine the case to be righteous, the premium would be low, and the suit probably would be settled out of court, thus saving taxpayers a ton of money. If the bond were to be very high, then there would be no case and no trial. Same result for the taxpayer.

Personally, I think this also applies to all levels of government, especially the Justice Department, which is pursuing a ruthless vendetta against the banking industry.

Here’s a possible scenario: Lawyer visits a business CEO. He says he has a client who was treated unfairly under the Equal Opportunity Act. He says, “Give me twenty-five-thousand dollars now, and my client and I will sign an unconditional release, or we will drag you through the court system to the tune of around seven-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars.” You would write the check, which makes the price of all goods and services rise for all of us.

Say you are a CEO of a startup or an existing company wanting to move to a more business friendly climate, somewhere close to major markets. Would you take it to Indiana, Tennessee or Kentucky, knowing that Kentucky has none of these enticements?

This is a problem your Shelby County Industrial Foundation – which, incidentally, uses no public funds – faces every day.

And there is the factor that no local official likes – prevailing wage. It’s a public rip-off that makes all public capital projects cost up to 20 percent more than they should.

Stay tuned.


Robert Pearce is retired and lives in Shelbyville.