Legislators approve budget, tax reform, foster care/adoption reform

On a day thousands of Kentucky teachers traveled to Frankfort to protest last week’s pension bill, tax reform and a biennial budget made it to the governor’s desk following action by the House and Senate.

The revenue bill includes tax cuts and $480 million in tax increases.  It calls for a flat income tax rate of five percent for individuals and corporations. Everyone who earns $8,000 or more will receive an income tax cut in the measure.

The cuts would be offset by a 50 cent increase in the cigarette tax and new sales taxes on services such as car repairs, dry cleaning and veterinary care for small animals such as cats and dogs.

The budget includes an increase in per-pupil SEEK funding for public school systems and it restores transportation funding for districts that was cut in the governor’s proposed spending plan.

All House members who represent Christian, Todd and Trigg counties voted in favor of both measures. Senator Whitney Westerfield voted for the budget and revenue bill and Senator Stan Humphries of Cadiz supported the budget, but not the tax reform measures.

Meanwhile, the Senate unanimously approved comprehensive adoption and foster care reforms, overhauling the way Kentucky handles foster care and adoption in order to better benefit children. The reforms aim to place children into loving homes in a timely manner by reducing bureaucracy, while also speeding up foster care and adoption processing and giving foster parents more of a voice in the process.

Governor Matt Bevin will have 10 days to veto any legislation he sees fit and he can veto individual lines in the budget. Lawmakers will return to Frankfort later in the month with the opportunity to override any or all vetoes.