CNPE caught up with Danielle Clore of Kentucky Nonprofit Network, who updated us on the latest advocacy efforts to address the sales tax issue facing the sector.
CNPE: A lot of people think the fight is over, now that bills BR 76 and 72 have been pre-filed for the upcoming legislative session – is that the case?
Danielle: This issue will be resolved when the two statutory exemptions we’ve outlined as solutions are passed by the General Assembly and signed into law, ideally as soon as possible. Assuming all is just fine because legislation has been pre-filed is dangerous thinking. Having the support and commitment of legislators is very good news – yes. But there is more work to be done. Right now only one solution is included in the pre-filed bills. KNN is working to address both solutions on behalf of the sector. And individual nonprofits must also work with us to see this to the finish line. Legislators want to hear from nonprofits in their district about the impact this is having on them and ultimately the impact this issue has on their constituents.
CNPE: So you think it’s overly optimistic to think this will just “work itself out”?
Danielle: Oh yes, we have a short window of time right now to specifically call attention to the two solutions sought by the sector and make our voices heard. Waiting until next year is too late. Legislators are home now – providing a great opportunity to connect with them so that when they arrive in Frankfort in early January, they are clear on the two solutions nonprofits need and can move quickly to address the issue.
Nonprofits must tell their story – their full story. It’s true that the sales tax issue has been frustrating and has cost nonprofits time and money to the changes and collect and remit these taxes. It’s also true that many nonprofits are struggling as a result. And it’s extremely important to communicate those stories of impact with legislators. In other words, yes, nonprofits are hurting. And when nonprofits are hurting, those they serve are hurting. I urge nonprofits to illustrate the difficulties this has created for your organization AND ultimately impacts those you serve. How many fewer people were served because of this distraction? How has fundraising been impacted – what is it costing in dollars raised for your mission and what does that mean with regard to impact on services?
Again, now is the time to connect – to pick up your phone and call, email or invite your representatives and senator to visit your organization while they are not on the road to Frankfort every day. This will help them understand your nonprofit’s mission and impact, and hopefully help them address the sales tax issue fully and quickly.
CNPE: What are some of your other concerns about this legislative process?
Danielle: Other than people assuming all is great because we have a pre-filed bill? That there will be attempts to divide nonprofits into ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ categories. ALL nonprofits – those in the arts, those in environmental protection, education, health care, human services – ALL nonprofits need to emphasize the economic value of the work they do, as well as the enrichment of our communities and our state. Each sub-sector of nonprofits is important.
CNPE: What is the biggest opportunity here?
Danielle: To reach out and meet your legislators to share your story. Some new legislators have been elected and many existing legislators simply do not yet understand the vital role of nonprofits. Tell them bluntly: “I’m in your district and I employ X of your constituents and bring X dollars of value to this community.”
There is much focus on the kind of quality of life in Kentucky communities that attract jobs. Nonprofits are essential to that quality of life and we need to be sure legislators understand this. A strong, vibrant nonprofit sector is essential to a strong, vibrant Kentucky.
Thanks so much, Danielle, for the hard work you and KNN do!
Want to know more? Click here for a great one-sheet from KNN on why you should care about the sales tax issue.
Click here to find your legislator.
Click here for resources on the economic importance of nonprofits in our region.