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State budget package; alcohol, tobacco taxes to increase

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By Stephen Lega

Gov. Steve Beshear Feb. 13 signed two bills into law - one regarding the executive branch budget and one regarding taxes.

State officials approved $150 million in spending cuts, as well as increases in the taxes on tobacco and alcohol. In November, economists projected a $456 million budget shortfall during the 2008-09 fiscal year, according to the governor's office.

Local legislators Sen. Dan Kelly and Rep. Jimmy Higdon both voted in favor of HB 143, the state executive branch budget bill. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 35-1 and the House by a vote of 77-23.

April 1, the state's cigarette tax will increase from 30 cents per pack to 60 cents per pack. The tax on snuff will increase to 19 cents per tin, and chewing tobacco will be taxed at 15 percent. The state's 6 percent sales tax will also be added to beer, liquor and wine sales.

Alcoholic beverages have previously only been taxed during wholesale purchases.

The alcohol and tobacco tax legislation, HB 144, was approved 24-12 in the Senate. Kelly voted in favor of the legislation.

The House approved the bill 66-34. Higdon was one of the 34 votes against the tax legislation.

The General Assembly has recessed until Monday, Feb. 23.

Kelly and Higdon have sponsored 23 bills combined during the 2009 session of the General Assembly.