Lawmakers squash liquor tax bill

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - by Julie Ann Grimm  - It’s been more than 20 years since the state Legislature allowed voters in McKinley County to decide whether to increase taxes on alcohol to help pay for substance abuse treatment programs. Six times since then, voters there have opted to leave the tax in place. But state laws don’t allow voters in other New Mexico counties to have the same debate: Would adding 4 cents to the cost of a bottle of beer be worth an increase in funds to help rehabilitate substance abusers?
A measure proposing a local-option liquor excise tax has once again died in the New Mexico House of Representatives. The House Taxation and Revenue Committee last week tabled House Bill 212 on a late-night vote, and the proposal is unlikely to see the light of day again during this legislative session.
Year after year, county and city officials — including Santa Fe city councilors and county commissioners — have asked for the local taxing authority that McKinley County already has. They want to raise more revenue to provide steady funding for alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment. But the result has been predictably similar: State lawmakers aren’t going for it.
Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, said he objected to the law because it would put an “undue burden” on liquor distributors who would have to change computer systems to charge different tax rates in different counties. Excise taxes are tacked on to delivery invoices, he said, not at the cash register. The other reason he cited for rejecting the proposal was that it would increase the cost of alcohol to the point where people would stop buying it in stores.
“Moonshine is being made and we are not getting any revenues from that,” Trujillo said at the hearing. “The more expensive it is, the more moonshine you are going to see being made in homes.” Read more

Cartoon by A. F. Branco

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