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Proposed liquor tax increase would help mentally ill, disabled

Kansans would pay a few more cents for every beer or glass of wine to support programs for the disabled and mentally ill under legislation reviewed by state lawmakers Friday.

The bill would double an existing tax on wholesale alcohol which is passed along to the consumer in the price of beer, wine and liquor. It's one of several tax hikes being considered by lawmakers looking to close a $400 million budget deficit.

The current tax rate — unchanged since 1977 — is 18 cents for every gallon of beer, 30 cents for a gallon of wine, and $2.50 for a gallon of liquor.

The estimated $21.8 million in additional revenue would be split evenly between mental health programs and services for the developmentally disabled. Lawmakers have cut funding for both since the state's financial crisis began.

The legislation received a hearing in the House Tax Committee on Friday. There's no word on when or if the committee might vote to send the bill to the full House.