Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bobo Stands Alone On Booze Tax

The Sun says it could find only one HoCo state lawmaker willing to support without qualification a 10-cent-per-drink tax increase on beer, wine and liquor: State Del. Elizabeth Bobo.

"I think it just makes a whole lot of sense. I think it's time to do it." Bobo isn't naive about political realities, however.

"We have a very strong liquor lobby," she said, but "to have that much fear of one segment of the economy is not good."

Several groups, and the Sun's editorial board, are pushing the idea in part to deal with the state's fiscal troubles. Two Johns Hopkins researchers estimated that a drink tax could raise $214 million in new revenue next fiscal year. In addition, they argue that higher prices for alcoholic beverages will help public health by reducing consumption. Maryland's tax on hard liquor was last raised in 1955, while beer and wine taxes increased last in 1972 - an unusually long length of time that many suspect is because of generous liquor industry campaign contributions to state legislators through the years.

Booze taxes are no doubt controversial. We've already heard from a Republican challenger to Bobo. John Bailey IV cited the harm a tax would bring to the liquor sellers.

Liz Bobo obviously does not or understand the tough position small business owners are facing.  An increase in the cost of  alcohol would negatively impact sales and would hurt an industry that has already faced a downturn  due to citizens cutting back on spending. 

Then again, Bailey said we shouldn't be raising any taxes: The answer to solving the budget problem is to make budget cuts.

Well, it easy to see where he stands.

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