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Metro Newsroom

Bluegrass Poll: Kentuckians Overwhelmingly Favor the Right for Local Option and Local Control

Monday February 10, 2014

Support is deep across party lines, areas of state

A significant majority of Kentuckians — six of every 10 — favor amending the state constitution to allow them to vote for projects that improve their communities and invest in the future, according to a statewide poll released this week.

The Bluegrass Poll -- conducted by The Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV of Louisville and The Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV of Lexington -- shows that 60 percent of Kentucky citizens want the right to vote on local option, versus 24 percent opposed and 16 percent who are undecided.

“Those are overwhelming numbers, and the citizens of the Commonwealth are sending a strong message to their elected leaders -- they want the same right to vote that citizens in 37 other states already have,” said Bill Samuels, co-chair of Local Investments For Transformation (LIFT), which is pursuing local option. “Local citizens know what’s best for their hometowns and local control is government at its best, driven by the people’s vision.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer noted that support for local option is deep across party and ideological lines and areas of the state, according to the poll:

  • 63% of Republicans support
  • 57% of Democrats support
  • 62% of self-identified conservatives support
  • 61% of self-identified moderates support
  • 57% of self-identified liberals support
  • 63% of citizens in Western Kentucky support
  • 63% of citizens in Eastern Kentucky support
  • 59% of citizens in the Louisville region support
  • 57% of citizens in Northern/Central Kentucky region support

“These numbers -- in a completely independent poll -- undeniably show the strong support for local option and local control across the Commonwealth,” Fischer said.

Local option is a simple but powerful tool for cities and counties that allows citizens to fund specific hometown capital projects — from a new park to a new firehouse — with an additional 1 percent sales tax.

The people vote "yes" or "no" on the projects and the tax. A “no” vote means no tax and no project. A “yes” vote means the 1 percent tax gets collected and the project gets funded. The money will stay in the community in a separate, restricted fund. It cannot go to Frankfort and cannot go into the local General Fund. It cannot be collected on the sale of food, medicine, utilities, or automobiles. And – most important – it goes away when the project is completed.

Currently, Kentuckians do not have the right to vote for local option, which would require an amendment to the state constitution. A bill to be considered in Frankfort this legislative session could change that, but it would require 60 percent of state Senators and Representatives to allow a statewide vote to amend the constitution.

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