Recently, our national economy has been rebounding following a long period of tepid recovery. That makes this the perfect time to tackle federal tax reform and I applaud President Trump for his leadership on this issue.
In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, our administration understands the importance of modernizing our antiquated tax structure to make our state more business friendly. Our vision is that Kentucky will become the epicenter of engineering and manufacturing excellence in the United States. To achieve that vision, Kentucky must compete with other states to draw companies who wish to establish or expand their businesses.
Thus far, we are doing well on that front. Kentucky just broke its record for new economic development in a single year, and it did so in only the first five months of 2017. Since taking office, we have announced more than $11 billion in new economic development projects, resulting in the creation of 30,663 jobs. Tax reform in our state will ensure that Kentucky remains on this trajectory of economic growth.
In the same way, America can become more competitive with other countries by updating the tax code at the federal level. After all, it has been more than 30 years since Washington, D.C. has passed significant tax reform. Currently, our corporate tax rate places the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage when compared to other industrialized nations. Lowering this rate will encourage companies who may have moved outside the US to return. The lower the rate, the better. Likewise, an improved tax structure will incentivize more foreign owned companies to establish their manufacturing operations in the United States, benefiting the American worker. We should encourage those who manufacture 21st century products to do so in the United States.
I recognize that the details of federal tax reform are still being worked out in the legislative process and there will be debate and disagreement on some of those details. That is to be expected and is a beneficial part of our deliberative, democratic process. Tax reform should be done thoughtfully. However, we do know that it is counterproductive to drive the wealth producers and job creators out of the country. Those who can provide seed capital should be encouraged to invest that capital here.
In addition, I encourage a complete federal-level repeal of the so called “death tax.” This tax hits the families of farmers and small business owners the hardest and often at a time of personal grief and loss. This is a counterproductive tax on those who have earned and saved, and it robs the economy of capital that would otherwise be reinvested and stimulate economic growth.
The time to act is now. Sensible, fiscally responsible tax reform will provide energy and impetus to an already dynamic economic recovery in the United States. I applaud President Trump and Congress for being willing to tackle this head on. I encourage them to be bold in their reforms and to approach the issue with pro-growth, pro-employer policies in mind. The sun is shining brightly on Kentucky’s economic future. Federal tax reform can be an important step in ensuring that same level of optimism for Americans everywhere.
Matt Bevin is governor of Kentucky.