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The Commonwealth

Drug treatment evaluation and tax reduction plan both get legislative backing this week

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Stu Johnson
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Senate Budget Committee Chair Chris McDaniel talking with Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer

The Kentucky General Assembly approved a budget this week. It includes a one-million-dollar appropriation to evaluate state-supported drug treatment programs. Senate Budget Committee Chair Chris McDaniel said dozens of programs are funded. But he noted there’s a need for a third party to assess effectiveness. McDaniel added he and other lawmakers do receive comments about some drug treatment programs falling short in offering services.

“Yeah, we hear that but largely…from the people that do it we hear how great they are but how bad their competitors are doing. And so we want a true baseline evaluation that can be uniformly applied,” said McDaniel.

If the budget provision becomes law, McDaniel anticipates the evaluations would be conducted over the next year. He’s not sure how long it would take. Governor Beshear is currently reviewing the legislatively approved budget.

A state tax modification measure also now sits on Governor Beshear’s desk. The general assembly acted this week to implement a process for lowering the personal income tax rate. Chris McDaniel said taxpayers are almost sure to see a half-percent reduction at the beginning of next year and most likely see another half percent drop the following year.

There’s been discussion about raising the general sales tax rate. Lawmakers didn’t do that and in an interview with WEKU McDaniel said he doesn’t expect that to happen.

“I’m not anticipating it, no…..you mean ever?....I can’t speak for future general assemblies, but not as long as I’m here, I don’t think so,” said McDaniel.

McDaniel said there are certain revenue and financial triggers that must occur before a lowering of the personal income tax rate. The northern Kentucky lawmaker added that includes the state’s budget reserve trust fund or rainy-day account being greater than 10% of receipts.

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