Kentucky House passes budget with 25-cent prescription opioid ta - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky House passes budget with 25-cent prescription opioid tax

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky House passed a more than $22 billion budget Thursday night and listed in it is a provision that would make Kentucky the first state to tax opioids.

The opiod tax is part of a plan to help close a gap in the commonwealth’s budget and is designed to help fill a hole left from funding the troubled pension system.

The plan would tax each dose 25 cents and could create about $70 million in funding a year.

Supporters say it will curb drug addition by limiting the supply of cheap addictive painkillers. House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne said adding a new tax isn't being taken lightly.

“I don’t think anybody on our side, not a member of our caucus, was excited about voting for a tax increase," Osborne said. "But we’re here to make the adult decisions, and sometimes that requires very, very difficult decisions."

Louisville Rep. Jim Wayne voted against the budget and said the opioid tax will not be used to fund treatment but rather used to fund education and other programs.

“The opioid crisis is addressed in multiple ways, but one of the key ways to do it is to get people who want treatment for this disease into properly run mental health and substance abuse facilities," Wayne said. "No money in here for that."

The tax would be assessed to drug distributors and would not directly show up on a pharmacy receipt.

The budget also includes a plan to increase the cigarette tax 50 cents per pack. The bill now moves to the Kentucky Senate.

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