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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
A nearly 2,000% increase in the state beer tax? Er, no thanks.
Back in 2005 when I was an intern at Willamette Week, one of the editors called me into his office and asked me to contact a lobbyist from Alaska. He was in town trying to get any local journalist that would listen to him to write an article about his efforts to increase the state beer tax. Supposedly, this lobbyist had successfully convinced the state legislature in his home state to jack up their beer tax and now he was down in Oregon to do the same thing here. At the time he was up against Karen Minnis, the then Speaker of the House, who was, in his words, "completely in bed with the beer industry."
He claimed his motivations were primarily fueled by a desire to discourage kids from drinking and finding a revenue source for the prevention and rehabilitation of alcoholism in Oregon. I can't remember what third party was funding his efforts. After the would-be lobbyist caused a bizarre ruckus at the capitol building in Salem with another advocate, the editor nixed the story and I never heard another word about their proposal.
I didn't support the lobbyist's relatively modest proposal, which would have supposedly increased the average pint of beer in Oregon by eight cents and I certainly don't support the insanity that is HB 2461, a piece of legislation that would jack up the beer tax to $49.61 for every barrel (roughly $1.00 to $1.50 a pint at your local tavern). Several state blogs, the editorial pages of local newspapers and drinkers quaking in their boots over the possibility of $6.00 pints are all up in arms over the proposal.
I have no idea who's pulling the strings behind the five state lawmakers pushing for this latest increase but why are they doing it? Well, the state is running low on dough but statewide drug and alcohol addiction services are also hurting for revenue.
Nevertheless, the bill is a sin tax, pure and simple, and the links above can provide a much more informed denouncement of it than I can. So here instead are my proposals for some other things around here that could also use some taxes:
Also: the state business tax could probably still use some work. Didn't Intel pay a grand total of, maybe, $5.00 a few years ago?