Learning from the Beer Tax

By Rep. Ben Cannon (D-Portland.)

There is no training manual for being a legislator. You don't have a boss, you have 60,000 voters. Heck, you don't even have an official job description to fall back on.

Like many jobs, this is one you learn by doing.

As my second legislative session draws to a close, I can assure you that I am still learning. And no Salem experience has been more painfully instructive than my efforts to raise Oregon's beer tax to provide dedicated funding for addiction treatment and public safety. In no particular order, here's some of what I've learned over the last six months working on this issue:

1. "Whereas" clauses matter.

Like many bills, House Bill 2461 includes a preamble consisting of a series of "whereas" statements (e.g. "Whereas addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is both preventable and treatable") and concluding "now, therefore, Be It Enacted By the State of Oregon" -- followed by the proposed revisions to Oregon law. Now, as a general rule, I don't spend much time reading the whereas statements of bills. They don't have any legal power, and they don't become a part of Oregon's laws. But these clauses may say a lot about the sponsor's intent, and they don't go unnoticed.

Not surprisingly, many people who read the bill took some offense at what appears to be a litany of charges against beer: "Whereas alcohol use by Oregon's eighth graders is 76 percent higher than the national average," and "Whereas on average, half of the students in every 11th grade classroom drink," etc. The tone left some brewers and beer enthusiasts, the vast majority of whom consume beer safely and responsibly, feeling defensive about their product -- before they even got to the legal meat of the bill.

2. I get to set my legislative priorities, but not the level of attention those priorities receive.

As my legislative priorities go, raising the beer tax has not been at the top of the list. I ran for the Legislature with an interest in education policy, health care reform, and reforming our unstable and inadequate system of public finance. As chair of the House Committee on Environment and Water, I have spent this session focused on climate change, air and water quality, and recycling.

Signing on to the beer tax seemed obvious, if only because the tax hasn't been raised in 32 years, it is second-lowest in the country, and addiction services in the state are woefully underfunded. But it is hardly the most significant legislation of the session, nor is it the reason that I ran for office.

Yet the beer tax has drawn far more public attention than any other issue I've worked on in three years. In retrospect, I should not have been surprised. The media loves tax proposals and finds this one, with its everyman impact and moral innuendo, particularly irresistible. For a small number of Oregonians (brewers), this bill would have a significant impact.

When we introduced the bill, I wasn't sure it would even get a committee hearing. Six months later, I have had to spend more time defending this proposal than any other. The public attention has drawn me away from other priorities. The lesson here for me is to correctly anticipate (and prepare for) media interest -- and to consider this when drawing up a legislative agenda.


3. Fifteen cents was too high.

This is a tough one to acknowledge, but it's true. If beer taxes were applied at point of sale, I have little doubt that beer producers and drinkers could easily withstand a fifteen cent increase in Oregon's less-than-a-penny beer tax. But beer excise taxes are paid by breweries (for beer brewed in Oregon) and distributors (for beer imported from out-of-state). If brewery representatives are to be believed, a 15 cent tax increase may have amounted to a 25% increase in the cost of production. Yes, the bulk of this increase could and would be passed along to consumers. But it is not smart policy to so suddenly, and so steeply, increase production costs for the industry.

4. Beer taxes are marked up to the consumer, by about twofold.

Research about the impact of beer tax increases in Alaska and other states, published by the National Tax Journal and the National Bureau of Economic Research, concludes that beer taxes are marked-up, on average, by a factor of about two. In other words, raising the excise tax by 15 cents increases the price of a bottle to the consumer by about 30 cents -- after middlemen have taken their cut.

Now, this is a far cry from Kurt Widmer's repeated claim that a $.05 or $.15 tax increase would raise beer prices by $1.50 - $2.00. But it does support opponents' argument that it isn't altogether fair to describe a $50 per barrel excise tax in terms of the equivalent price per bottle, since consumers are likely to see the price of that bottle rise by $0.30, not $0.15.

It also points out just how anti-competitive beer distributorships are -- due to protections provided by Oregon and federal laws. The non-tax portion of the mark-up? Pure profit for the beer middlemen.

5. Beer is an important part of the cultural and economic fabric of Oregon.

Well, duh. Of course I knew this already. When you spend your early adulthood living in SE Portland, as I have, the Horse Brass, Hopworks, Lucky Lab, and McMenamins are more than bars: they're gathering spots for noisy reunions, quiet shelters from afternoon storms, and destinations to bring out-of-town guests. They're a major source of civic pride. But to be honest, until this experience, I did not have a full appreciation for the passion that many Oregonians have for their beer, not to mention the number of people who work in the industry.

In another state, our proposal might have quietly joined the inevitable assortment of proposed tax increases, attracting little notice until it started to move. In Oregon, however, brewers and consumers are understandably vigilant about proposed legislation affecting them. In drafting the legislation, I focused on the fact that 80-90 percent of Oregon's beer tax revenues are generated on large, corporate, out-of-state beers. The remainder is a small percentage of the total, but it is still a huge industry for this state.

So have I changed my mind about raising the beer tax?

Absolutely not. The facts remain: Oregon hasn't raised its beer tax in more than 30 years. Ours is among the very lowest beer taxes in the country. We have significant unmet needs for addiction treatment and public safety. The public overwhelmingly supports a modest increase in the tax, and most of Oregon's beer drinkers would willingly pay a few cents more for a pint.

But I have tried to apply the above lessons to a new version of the tax. My colleagues and I have worked on an amendment that would raise the tax to 1.5 cents on beer from "small" breweries (ones that meet the federal definition of under 2,000,000 barrels per year, including every brewery in Oregon). For beer from large, out-of-state breweries, it would go higher; say, 5 or 7 cents. We would dedicate the revenue (somewhere in the range of $80 million per biennium) to public safety and addiction treatment. (And we strike the "whereas" clauses!)

It's hard to say whether this proposal will move forward in the weeks that remain in this session. The Legislature has other revenue proposals to consider, including ones that absolutely must pass if we are to balance the budget without making unthinkable cuts. Given the outcry they heard against our initial proposal, many legislators may already have committed to voting "no" on any beer tax increase. But I'm still interested in the feedback here. Beer lovers, what say you?

Comments

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    I say Prost! to a thoughtful, smart column by a brilliant legislator.

    I love your proposed solution - and hope the legislature passes it.

    Next session, let's do something about those windfall profits from distributors, huh?

  • Boats (unverified)
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    I love the rationalization the just because a tax hasn't been raised in awhile it is your profound duty to see that it be raised. That there is a Californicator attitude that will eventually turn this state into one where the largest industry is the one run by the economic illiterates who gather beneath the golden pioneer in Salem with which they have no possible spiritual connection.

    Imagine the derision one would have drawn in 1859 had he proposed taxing a recreational industry like brewing to throw money at the town drunks and their professional class of clinical apologists. Oh, but they were unenlightened Neanderthals back then. Oftentimes, the world was a better place without self-selected saviors needing coerced public cash for their rescue missions.

    You should just quit the masquerade and propose a general sales tax rather than doing it piecemeal, one "sin" at a time.

    I am so glad that your meddling requires a 3/5ths vote to "succeed."

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    I'm curious as to how you handicap a constitutional challenge to a proposal that seems sure to be described as blatant economic protectionism for in-state breweries. Seems like your proposed "improvement" is right out of a Con Law textbook (Dean Milk v. Madison).

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    I'm curious as to how you handicap a constitutional challenge to a proposal that seems sure to be described as blatant economic protectionism for in-state breweries.

    If I remember correctly, this has already been litigated. It's not an in-state/out-of-state thing, it's a small-business/big-business thing. It's OK to have graduated, progressive taxes based on size of business.

    It just so happens that there are no megabrewers in Oregon. Were a 500,000-barrel brewery to open here (or grow here), they'd face the same megabrewer rate as ones out of state do.

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    as an addedum to #2, make sure you have allies lined up & ready to go. only recently has a single brewer stepped forward to support your initiative. any issue that might be controversial -- and raising taxes will always be controversial -- needs to be a well-planned campaign. the BTA failed similarly in presenting the Idaho Stop Law: one stupid article by Harry Esteve, and the whole thing went up in flames (one stupid phrase, for that matter: "blowing through" stop signs).

    thanks for sharing your "lessons learned", Ben. apparently you're not only sexy, you're smart and sufficiently humble to talk openly about this adventure.

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    Ben, thanks much for the careful, thoughtful post. For about a decade there, it seemed like politicians who admitted to thinking deeply about any issue and finding within it some murky nuance were rare (and targeted) birds. I like to think that a post like this represents a new brand of leadership--dare I say "change we can believe in?"

    I think your approach is wise and balanced. I'd like to see the numbers you offer in terms of per-barrel excise dollars, just so the proposal is crystal clear. But in general, my guess is that this kind of scenario (one I've been advocating since the '07 leg session) is likely one brewers, beer fans, and legislators could live with.

    As a talking point suggestion, I'd set an exemption for the first x barrels sold in Oregon, rather than pegging the rate to the total number of barrels a brewery sells, and perhaps lowering the threshold substantially (like say down to 50k or 100k barrels). That way every brewery gets the same deal, smaller breweries--which can't produce volume efficiencies, are given a break--and bubble breweries aren't given a disincentive to growth.

    But hey, there's time to hash out the details. I agree with you that you had way bigger fish to fry, and to my progressive beer-drinking friends who occasionally took your name in vain, I pointed out this fact. We are fortunate indeed to have a progressive like you fighting for health care, the environment, living wages, and so on.

    Thanks and good luck with the rest of the session.

  • Mark (unverified)
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    A very cogent, humble and complete discourse on this subject, but also the broader subject of how a legislator deals with conflicting and competing priorities around specific legislative initiatives.

    I have never accepted the notion that hellfire and damnation to local brewers would follow if the excise tax was raised. I do disagree with the size of the increase, however. Your new proposal or amendment should get the support of beer enthusiasts here, though the pattern seems to be "No tax increase. Not now. Not ever."

    With an approach as level-headed as you have articulated here, I would hope you would find support among all parties.

  • dddave (unverified)
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    yes, Any tax that has not been raised recently, NEEDS TO BE RAISED AGAIN? So thoughtful and eloquent, like a crackwhore needing a fix, screw anyone and everyone to get your fix. Please, why the hell does beer need to be taxed at all? Gee, because we just need our meth, revenue. Could you please get a life somewhere else? Please publish the last 10 state budgets for us will ya? Yunno, the budgets that go UP because they are a percentage of the total, but then become permanent because we just can't do without all the help? My business is off 30%. Isn't the budget actually up in real dollars? And you are still whining like crazy, ugh. Thanks for the help Ben, with sharp folks like you at the helm, we look forward to air being taxed in the form of cap and trade. You have no honor sir.

  • Lew Bryson (unverified)
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    Thoughtful, yes, and well-written. But no one in favor of this tax -- or any of the others proposed across the country "to pay for addiction services!" -- has yet explained to me why, as a moderate drinker of beer, that I am somehow expected to pay for the people who have problems with alcohol and drugs. If those people do indeed have an illness -- and the medical community says they do -- then pay for it with whatever healthcare programs you have already funded. If you believe they're just irresponsible...do what you do with other irresponsible people: throw them in jail or a hospital, and pay for it from the general fund. But asking me to pay for it, while the person standing next to me who doesn't drink pays nothing, is kind of like asking me to pay for someone else's speeding ticket just because I have a driver's license. It's not that I don't want to have these services, it's not that I don't want to pay taxes to fund them. But having a tax that affects less than all the population based merely on a drink choice, and a regressive tax at that, is simply unfair. I do not understand why a "progressive" legislator or commenter does not get that.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    What is there to get? The usual thought linkages concerning higher or new taxes touching upon need, propriety, fairness, unintended consequences, etc., are missing in "progressives." If clinical psychologists weren't also liberals and progressives themselves, they might identify a distinct socio-pathology at work there.

    Never, ever, get between a liberal and a higher tax or between a liberal and a new tax if you know what is good for your sanity.

    Just look at the Waxman authored climate change claptrap and its current analysis by the CBO. A new approximately $1600 global warming yoke is to be placed upon every typical American family in the midst of the worst recession since the early 80s.

    "But they're not taxes Boats!" A wealth transfer by any other name. . . . Yes, skyrocketing electrical rates can be a form of tax as said increases would be driven not by the market but by the meddling central government.

    Besides, were it not a tax, why would Ways & Means Chairman and notorious tax cheat Rep. Charles Rangel suddenly have some jurisdiction over this piece of legislative excrement?

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    But no one in favor of this tax -- or any of the others proposed across the country "to pay for addiction services!" -- has yet explained to me why, as a moderate drinker of beer, that I am somehow expected to pay for the people who have problems with alcohol and drugs. If those people do indeed have an illness -- and the medical community says they do -- then pay for it with whatever healthcare programs you have already funded.

    You already pay for it--but the revenue isn't there to maintain current funding for the programs you cite.

    The tax in question is part of paying for those current programs. At least, that's how I understand this to be.

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    Carla, FWIW, the amount that goes to those services is pretty tiny. I think about 5%.

  • Vincent (unverified)
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    Were a 500,000-barrel brewery to open here (or grow here), they'd face the same megabrewer rate as ones out of state do.

    Well, I know one good way of making sure they never decide to bring those jobs here...

  • (Show?)

    Thanks for the thoughtful post Ben. I debated this very issue with your staff on a couple occasions and we came to very similar conclusions. A reasonable tax increase would put Oregon in the upper half of states with regard to beer tax rates (but not leading the pack by more than double the nearest competitor, as in your initial proposal). It would also be indexed, as you describe, to lessen the burden on smaller brewers with more sensitive margins (be they in-state or out-of-state). I also agree with Jeff that you could probably set your threshold much lower and still not hit the folks who really couldn't afford the hit.

    I'd also be interested to see you pursue a remedy to this issue:

    It also points out just how anti-competitive beer distributorships are -- due to protections provided by Oregon and federal laws. The non-tax portion of the mark-up? Pure profit for the beer middlemen.

    I'm not sure just how much of the issue is in state law and how much is federal, but anything that could be done in the legislature to improve the situation would be a boon for consumers and probably earn you a ton of goodwill with the local breweries.

  • Jules Kopel Bailey (unverified)
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    This is the kind of post I have come to expect from Ben: thoughtful, intelligent, and articulate. Ben and I disagree, sometimes strongly, on the beer tax proposal. But over the course of my first session I have come to know Ben as a legislator with unimpeachable integrity, and I have learned an enormous amount working with him.

    Whether you agree with Ben or not, he has weathered quite a storm for what he believes in, and deserves our respect. We need more public servants like him.

  • Old Ducker (unverified)
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    From the OP:

    "It also points out just how anti-competitive beer distributorships are -- due to protections provided by Oregon and federal laws."

    Nice to have a legislator admit that an investment in politics has such a nice payback for an industry. Surely there is some compelling public interest in creating a protected cartel that serves only to screw the public, right?

  • Brian Collins (unverified)
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    They way I think about it is that products like beer are great fun for most people but also have some serious negative externalities that affect some individuals greatly and society at large to some extent. Charging a reasonable tax to help cover costs related to addiction and law enforcement seems like a justifiable approach to me.

    Rep. Cannon, thanks for writing such an insightful article. Good luck with your modified version of the proposal.

  • Tim Burris (unverified)
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    A minor note: most people I know buy bottled beer at the grocery store. Buying a bottle of beer at the bar is not unheard of, but I find it quite rare: at bars, draft beer is much more common. So I suspect that the majority of bottled beer is purchased not by the bottle, but by the 6- or 12-pack.

    $0.30 * 6 = $1.80, right in line with Widmer's figures.

  • jfwells (unverified)
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    Rep. Cannon, Thanks for explaining your lessons learned and thoughts going forward. As a "beer enthusiast", my thoughts tend to mirror those of Jeff Alworth above, but I would like to add this: Why just beer? What about a wine and hard alcohol tax increase? Add them all in at a moderate level and you would have my grudging support. (although I do agree with Lew Bryson above that it is unfair to have the producers of craft beer paying for the addiction treatment of those individuals that probably never use their product)

    Jason Wells

  • Jim Edelson (unverified)
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    Representative Ben,

    Your approach to this issue is true public service. You listen well, and this revised proposal is a great Oregon solution. Practical and balanced.

    I can't see the opponents making any headway against this. I think if you just make sure you have that potential legal challenge analyzed and addressed, this deserves a quick trip to the Governor's desk.

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    Ben,

    As always eloquent(for a white guy)and thoughtful. I think the conversation you had with the state is a testimony to the value of the legislative process, learning through testimony about the consequences of legislation instead of the ballot measure approach.

    As an avid Oregon micro-beer fan I am willing to pay my fair share and do believe that the tax should be raised modestly, although not as much as your first proposal. If you can get guys like me and Alworth on board you are well on your way.

    The other issue you raised is worth taking a look at and that is the monopoly control that beer distributors have in this state. If airlines had to compete 25 years ago, why shouldn't beer distributors have to compete in 2009.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    Rep. Cannon please answer this...

    If beer taxes should pay for these services (which I don't agree they should) why not apply the revenue collected from the existing state excise tax and earmark it directly to these services FIRST? In 2008, only $7.9 million of the $155.8 million in total revenue collected was earmarked for alcohol and drug treatment.

    Instead you start off with a proposal that targets, yes targets, an industry you say is " an important part of the cultural and economic fabric of Oregon." That to me does not seem sincere.

  • Bill Hall (unverified)
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    As incoming chair of the Governor's Council on Alcohol and Drug Programs, I would like to say thank you Rep. Cannon for all your hard work on this issue, for weathering the storm, and for this insightful post. Let's hope this time we FINALLY get there.

  • Old Ducker (unverified)
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    John Calhoun:

    I think you're on to something. Let's "pay" for an increase in the beer tax by unregulating distribution. The beer-buying public would probably see prices drop at the retail level.

    Nah, it's too rational so it would never fly.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    How refreshing for an elected representative to admit that they proposed a tax on an industry without even understanding how that tax was levied, how it would be collected or what the potential ramifications were at the retail level. For that I thank you representative Cannon.

    Actually, however what most likly happened is you thought that there was some low hanging fruit and a tax that could be raised without public outcry. If you are truly interested in the "significant unmet needs for addiction treatment and public safety", then take 100% of the existing beer tax and put it towards these two areas. Only then will you somewhat disguised mea culpa become believable.

  • Hal (unverified)
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    "So have I changed my mind about raising the beer tax?

    Absolutely not. The facts remain: Oregon hasn't raised its beer tax in more than 30 years."

    Hoooray! Im glad the democRATS plan to raise the beer tax and any other tax you can possibly think of. I can only hope it contributes to your demise.

  • JP (unverified)
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    Ben,

    Thanks for reminding me why I worked so hard for you in 2006, and reminding me that whatever the outcome here, the debate is in at least one pair of good hands.

    To the trolls - you suck and get a life.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Now this, I like. The post I mean. The blather afterward was typical blow-back for thinking.

    To the trolls - you suck and get a life.

    If memory serves, you were calling those that made the points that Rep. Cannon learned from, "trolls", when they did it. I love our reps posting here. We just need to come up with some kind of sycophant filter.

    That's OK. It's the outcome that matters, and this one is quite nice, imhe.

  • GLBT Rights Watch (unverified)
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    Posted by: Hal | Jun 9, 2009 3:40:01 PM

    "So have I changed my mind about raising the beer tax?

    Absolutely not. The facts remain: Oregon hasn't raised its beer tax in more than 30 years."

    Hoooray! Im glad the democRATS plan to raise the beer tax and any other tax you can possibly think of. I can only hope it contributes to your demise.

    Obviously, this isn't something a Dem would think of, but it might be a useful expedient. The Reps would call it something different. It works with the mentality of this poster. He thought no deeper than three letters. Fine. Don't give 'im the three letters. That's how the Reps keep 'em happy. It's kind of like giving sugar to a kid to shut them up. Yes, it's poison, but you have to get them to shut up to get something done.

    Of course, BO's banning the IP address of a known spammer that has never posted one word in debate, only rightie tighty adverts, seems to be totally beyond the resolve and concern of the management. He's used 4 aliases, and has spammed every revenue topic, save the week his parents sent him on spring break to the Carribean. He thinks you're another of his little playthings. Have some respect for your serious readers and kill the goddamned little cocksucker's spam! Seems to have changed to Hal from Wunder Blunder, realizing he was betraying his existential status. I'll tell you and tell you over again, it's unwanted births... Read "Old Ducker" if you want to get a clue what a dissenting OPINION looks like. The only parallel for your scree is in the sidebars. If I send you a bunch of URLs with stuff you can jack off to, will you leave political debate alone?

  • Boats (unverified)
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    Haha ha. The more we "get lives" the harder the Democrats try and tax all of the pursuit of happiness out of it.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    I'm glad that Ben is fighting for this and other good bills, like HB 2184 (Bottle Bill) that I would think shouldn’t be so tough to pass with a D supermajority. (HB 2184 finally got out of the House Envrio/Water committee, which Ben chairs, but still hasn't made it out of Revenue.)

    I've e-mailed my legislators in support of the beer tax and am sending a letter to the editor in support of HB 2461.

    Great work, Ben! You've been one of the most high profile Dems this session because of the leadership and guts you've displayed in taking on issues like this.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks for the feedback here. A couple of points in response to some of the issues raised:

    As Kari notes, the Constitution permits distinguishing between large and small breweries for the purpose of tax treatment. It does not permit distinguishing between Oregon and non-Oregon breweries. Our proposal does the former.

    Steve wonders why we don't spend more of existing excise tax revenue on treatment. The number he cites ($155.8 million) reflects the total revenue the state derived from beer, wine, and liquor in 2007-2008. Beer tax revenues accounted for just about $7 million of this total; wine, a little more. The rest is profit from state liquor sales. (According to the Brewers' Guild, Oregon breweries paid about $850,000).

    Under current law, these proceeds are split between the general fund (50%), cities, and counties. Addiction treatment and mental health received $7.9 million. I am open to redistributing the current revenues to reflect a greater emphasis on treatment. But there are other claims for those dollars, and it would be tough. Like others, I have proposed increasing the beer tax under the condition that new revenues be spent on alcohol-related impacts.

    Thanks again for the commentary here.

  • (Show?)

    Oh, and one more thing:

    In 2003, Alaska adopted a 10 cent beer tax for beer from large breweries (all of which were out-of-state) while retaining a 3 cent rate for small brewers. In the four years following this increase, Alaska's small breweries saw their in-state sales increase 25%, consistently outpacing Alaska sales for the big, national brands. Their market share grew.

    Would a similar proposal here provide a competitive advantage for Oregon's brewers?

  • JP (unverified)
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    To Zarathustra,

    Consider, for a moment, thus thinking before you thus spake (tense agreement is close enough for the pun's sake).

    I plead guilty to the following - liking Ben Cannon personally; supporting his promising career; thinking, as you apparently also do, that the original post was a well-thought-out, insightful take on both the beer tax and on the crafting of legislation more generally;

    Being very rarely compelled to post for any reason to avoid being drawn into useless flame wars (see: your post); not knowing enough about the specific policy or political ramifications of this particular issue to take a seriously informed stand one way or another;

    And, finally, calling out the army of third graders who invoke RATS, crack whores, Ben's lack of honor, and professional clinical apologists (my mom's profession, for which she studied somewhat beyond third grade) to make their non-points and have nothing useful to contribute to the dialogue Ben attempted to start, unlike the additional army of critics who do, in fact, have something constructive to say even if they don't agree.

    If this makes me a sycophant, so be it. At the very least, I don't make a habit of calling out thoughtful posters without something to back it up.

  • (Show?)

    GLBT-- rest assured, we are actively fending off trolls, but they seem to be attracted to BlueO. We are busily working on a new commenting engine to deal with it. Stay tuned.

  • tomw (unverified)
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    Ben,

    I'm a beer drinker - Oregon microbrews mostly - and I support an increase on the beer tax. I'd also like to see it include malt drinks. I think your measure got spun out of control. All people heard was "a $46 dollar increase" which make it sound like a bottle of Black Butte Porter was going to cost as much as a Blazer ticket. Although, it's probably equal value...

    Keep trying. A measured, focused bill to address specific concerns certainly has a chance if you round up stakeholders during the interim.

  • carchiba (unverified)
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    I would some change in government. for once Just for once I would like to see a state Reo come up with a Plan that does not TAX the people (business are PEOPLE). Maybe cuts wasteful programs or redundant departments from the state and puts that money where can add to the economy. I know it’s painful to think like that. All you need to give jobs to all them campaign volunteers. This beer tax Thinking will just take us down the road California is on. What this state needs is less state programs and less taxes. History has shown over and over that lower flater taxes bring in more money then high taxes.

    Anyway Rep. Ben Cannon you have bigger problems. http://images.businessweek.com/ss/09/02/0226_miserable_cities/2.htm Congrats, while you’re looking for reasons to tax the people’s beer your city just became number one!

  • carchiba (unverified)
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    California State Controller: Out of Cash in 50 Days http://tinyurl.com/ktnpmb

    q: whats the lesson to learn? A: stop groverment growth. NO TAXES. NO MORE feel good programs.

  • (Show?)

    Ben, I like your proposal. I also hope you will look into going after the anti-competitive nature of the distribution cabal. Perhaps the AG could help.

    Yeah, the economic literature discusses markup, but remember its all theoretical, so it is still valid in comparing taxes to reduce proposals and taxes across states to the per bottle or per pint figure. That's the best way to fairly compare given differences in markup, distribution systems, etc. that get you into modeling and theory.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Lew Bryson (unverified)
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    From The Oregonian: "Tax haters and beer lovers, have another round: The beer tax is dead this year, despite a last-minute push for a more modest increase by proponents. "I would never say never. It's certainly not out of the question, but absent some change in some shift in the votes, it's unlikely to appear," in the final days of the session, said Rep. Ben Cannon, D-Portland, on Thursday."

    Great! Now, if you really need that tax revenue, why not think up something more fair, more evenly-applied, and less regressive? Stop balancing the budget on beer-drinkers' backs.

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