In December, after nine months, fifteen meetings and countless hours of discussion and debate, Kentucky’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform finally settled on a list of 54 recommendations for overhauling the state’s tax code. The proposals from the special panel included everything from revenue-raising measures such as higher cigarette taxes and limits on itemized deductions to tax cuts such as lower rates on income and a new earned income tax credit for the working poor.

But the dollar figure for one recommendation dwarfed any of the other 53. The state, the commission said, should raise $485 million a year by reducing exemptions on pension income — by, in effect, taxing the elderly more.