Topeka A House committee this week has scheduled a hearing for legislation to increase wholesale alcoholic beverage taxes and use that revenue to fill in budget holes for services for the mentally ill and disabled.
The proposal has been pushed by two Republican House members from Johnson County: Kay Wolf of Prairie Village and Pat Colloton of Leawood.
When she introduced the measure, Wolf said, “In this economy, the need for mental health (services) is even more.”
Social service agencies have been hit hard over the past year as Gov. Mark Parkinson and the Legislature have reduced overall state spending by nearly $1 billion because of falling revenue collections. Parkinson cut Medicaid funding by 10 percent and lawmakers still face a $400 million revenue shortfall for the next fiscal year.
Parkinson has proposed a temporary sales tax increase, but so far it has not gained traction.
On Friday, the House Taxation Committee will conduct a hearing on House Bill 2593, which would double the taxes per gallon on various alcoholic beverages.
The current tax is 18 cents per gallon on beer, 30 cents per gallon on wine and $2.50 per gallon on alcohol. It is levied upon the person who first manufactures, sells, purchases or receives the liquor. It has already been paid by the time the product is for sale in a liquor, grocery or convenience store.
Supporters of the measure say it will raise $22 million, which would be divided between mental health centers and reducing a waiting list for Kansans with disabilities who are trying to receive home and community-based assistance.
The alcoholic beverage industry opposes the tax increase, saying it would send customers to Missouri to buy alcohol.