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Kentucky's bourbon industry could see tax reform benefits

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Stu Johnson
/
Kentucky Public Radio

The Capitol rotunda was the site of a celebration of one of Kentucky’s signature industries Wednesday afternoon. It included references to what’s been an allusive policy goal for decades.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Ashli Watts said Kentuckians usually agree on one thing regardless of political ideology. “If anything can bring us together in this kind of political climate, it’s always going to be bourbon,” said Watts.

The ceremony featured comments from democratic Governor Andy Beshear and GOP legislative leaders Robert Stivers and David Osborne.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association reports the bourbon industry carries an annual $9 billion impact and generates more than 22,000 jobs and a $1.2 billion payroll. Association President Eric Gregory said the next three years will see three billion dollars in capital investment.

“Not only do you have more distilleries, more aging warehouses, more bottling lines, you’ve got more tourism centers, you’ve got hotels being added to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail of Distilleries. Airbnb’s. There are distilleries now they have concert venues. It truly is becoming a Napa Valley type of experience,” said Gregory.

During his remarks, House Speaker David Osborne said the general assembly is committed to comprehensive tax reform this session. He said that would prove beneficial to the bourbon industry.

“With our record reserves, budget reserve trust fund, this legislature is ready to tackle meaningful tax reform that will advance our pro-growth, pro-business policies that will continue to make Kentucky the bourbon capital of the world,” explained Osborne.

Gregory noted the elimination of the barrel tax would help in seeing additional distilleries locate in Kentucky. Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey said no formal tax reform bill has been released. The Louisville senator added it’s already getting late in the session, but there is time to get it done if there’s widespread commitment.