12 January 2011

Alcohol "10-cent-a-drink" tax now seems uncertain in Md. Senate

Yeah, that proposed "ten-cent-a-drink" tax on alcoholic beverages that seemed so certain, in the eyes of other commentators, to pass through the Maryland legislature?

Not so fast.......

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller this morning had sobering words for those advocating a hike on beer, wine and liquor taxes: The proposal is "nonsense," he said.
"It is not going to happen," said Miller, who has instead pushed for a hike in the state's gas tax.
Miller, House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Gov. Martin O'Malley participated this morning in an annual legislative issue forum hosted by radio host Marc Steiner. The conversations were largely dominated by talk of budget cuts.

Part of the problem, according to radio commentary heard at WBAL Radio this morning, is that the proposed alcohol tax increase was formerly targeted at--and tied specifically to--raising funds to assist the disabled with medical care.  As predicted by some cynics (including this blogger), the legislature now seems more inclined to instead take the proceeds from this proposed tax increase for the general fund--thus making the tax increase a harder sell to the public.

Clipper City/Heavy Seas founder and Maryland microbrewery pioneer Hugh Sisson, in  a conversation last night, acknowledged a need for the state to raise taxes, even on alcohol, but said that the "dime a drink" terminology was being used to disguise the fact that, in the end, the typical consumer would be paying "an additional $4-5 a case" of beer, or a dollar or more a six-pack, once the tax reached the retail level.

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