Legislature closer to 2016 budget

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The House and Senate on Tuesday approved a measure that would move $80 million in use tax from the state’s education budget to the ailing General Fund. A second bill would alter the terms of the Rolling Reserve Act, which sets aside a percentage of education revenues for savings accounts.

The change would reduce the amount of money going into those accounts, which could free up more funds for immediate education needs and making up the lost use tax revenue in the education budget.

Legislators are in their second special session called to pass a General Fund budget for the fiscal year that begins in October.

The Senate also approved a proposal to raise the cigarette tax 25 cents a pack, expected to generate $70 million for Medicaid.

The Senate also approved an increase in the nursing home bed tax, worth about $8 million to the General Fund. The levy is paid by nursing homes, who support the tax. An increase in the prescription drug provider tax, also supported by the industry and also worth $8 million, passed the Senate 19-13.