It’s called hitting the ground running. “When I graduated in May, I never expected to be in national media by November,” said Transylvania University economics and international affairs grad Lyman Stone ‘13.
It’s been that kind of year for Stone, now working as an economist at the Center for State Tax Policy, an arm of the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C., as he pursues a master’s degree in international trade and investment policy at George Washington University.
“I've had opportunities for media coverage through the Tax Foundation due to my work relating to tax incentives, both through the Washington Post and a live debate with Florida's Secretary of Commerce on Fox Business,” said the Jessamine County native.
“I wrote about some incentives being offered to Boeing and, because I was one of the first people writing on the issue nationally, Google searches were kind to me and put my piece high up on the results page for a while. That led to media outlets, like the Washington Post, calling me for comment. Then when Fox Business contacted us to have someone debate the issue on TV, since I'd been doing all the writing, I got to do the debate.”
The latter half of 2013 has been a whirlwind of media exposure for Stone. PolitiFact quoted Stone in an August examination of the Florida tax code, which led to the televised debate with the Florida Secretary of Commerce over big tax incentives used to attract corporations and whether they help or hurt taxpayers. In October, Stone was cited in the American City Business Journal, offering observations on how Kentucky might improve its business tax climate. Then came November and comments featured in a pair of Washington Post articles about state tax subsidies and sales taxes.
“Look, tax breaks for Toyota or Ford or UPS do help those firms; there's no denying that,” noted the former opinion editor for The Rambler, Transylvania’s newspaper. “And the tax rates that firms face do affect their location decisions. The thousands of good jobs supported by Toyota and other incentive-receiving companies are real benefits for Kentuckians.
“But what about the thousands of smaller firms that didn't get big tax breaks? What about the family businesses putting a kid through college who don't have a team of accountants to wade through tax incentive filing paperwork? What about the coal and timber companies that have employed Kentuckians for generations and paid special mineral extraction taxes on top of their normal taxes? What about the tobacco farmers who suffer from cigarette taxes or the bourbon distilleries that lose out from spirits taxes? Are these businesses less deserving of lower tax rates because they're born-and-raised in Kentucky? I don't think so.”
Stone, who during his collegiate career interned with both the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget and the World Trade Center of Kentucky, credits the research and writing he did at Transylvania for preparing him to consider policy and economic issues in depth.
But he also mentions another role at Transylvania that helped prepare him for his career. “Those who remember my tenure at Transylvania will be amused when I say that my time working in residence life was great preparation, as it supplied me the confidence needed to address sometimes stressful situations and the ability to speak with confidence,” he added.
A William T. Young Scholar at Transylvania, Stone was recently recognized by Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honorary, as its 2013 National Leader of the Year for Journalism, Speech, and the Mass Media. As a student, Stone also served as president of Omicron Delta Epsilon economics honorary and president of the College Republicans.