Earlier today, Gov. Steve Beshear signed House Bill 1 into law, a law that will finally shine the light of public transparency on Kentucky’s “ghost governments.” These spooky bureaucratic entities consist of more than 1,200 special taxing districts across the commonwealth which have the power to assess fees and levy fines on Kentuckians. All too often, these districts ignore their legal obligations to submit budgets to county governments, or aren’t audited at all. But the spookiest part of all is that the bureaucrats commanding these ghost governments don’t have to be elected by Kentucky taxpayers, even though they dole out more than $2.7 billion of taxpayers’ hard-earned money every year.
That’s called taxation without representation, people.
But thanks to efforts from the Bluegrass Institute and State Auditor Adam Edelen, House Bill 1 will go a long way toward correcting that age-old problem. Among other reforms, HB 1 will create a central registry where special taxing districts must submit regular financial reports of their activities. It will also create a public database where taxpayers can scrutinize district spending.
The Bluegrass Institute has long spoken out against the opaque nature of too many sectors of Kentucky’s government. Ever since Auditor Edelen first began his efforts to investigate the lack of transparency within special taxing districts early last year, the Bluegrass Institute has supported the $2.7 billion endeavor and alerted those passionate about accountability in government of the importance of these efforts.
So we at the Bluegrass Institute are proud to say House Bill 1 has been signed into law. By establishing a public database to oversee special taxing districts, HB 1 has empowered millions of Kentuckians to be stewards of good and efficient government.