Kentucky's tobacco settlement money is in – with more comingPosted on May 2, 2018
FRANKFORT—Kentucky’s latest share of a multi-billion-dollar national tobacco settlement agreement is $102 million with more money on the way, says the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy.
GOAP Executive Director Warren Beeler told the General Assembly’s Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee today that the $102 million, received last month, will provide around $28.4 million in 2018 for state and county agricultural projects funded through the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, or KADF. And more funds are expected, thanks to a reformulation of settlement funds by the tobacco companies making the payments.
The reformulation—based on actions taken by the companies to ensure compliance with the two-decades old settlement agreement entered into between 46 states, including Kentucky, and the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturers—will boost the $28.4 million to around $40 million over the biennium, said Beeler. For counties, that means a 40 percent increase in available funds.
“So you can tell your counties, the county money’s going up 40 percent,” he told lawmakers on the committee.
The recently-passed state budget will divert around $13 million in 2019-2020 for agricultural improvements to the state fairgrounds in Louisville, leaving less money for other projects and programs. While budgeting funds for state fairground improvements means less money for other agricultural projects and programs funded with tobacco settlement dollars, Beeler said he considers the improvements “an investment in agriculture.”
The budget provision will have little impact otherwise, Beeler said. Even with $7 million gone in 2019, he said tobacco dollars for state projects funded through the KADF will be within $100,000 of this year’s total.
“So we came through it as good as anybody,” said Beeler.
Overall, Beeler said Kentucky has grown its farm gate cash receipts – or sales from Kentucky agricultural operations – by around $2 billion, year after year, with $560 million in tobacco settlement money it has spent on agriculture to date.
“That money’s worked like a dream. If you could go with me, you’d see what I see. It’s been absolutely terrific,” he said.