A Quarter a Drink Could Ease California Budget Deficit by $3.5 Billion

Marin Institute, the alcohol industry watchdog, issued a call to action today for California Governor Jerry Brown and state legislative leaders to raise excise taxes on wine, beer, and distilled spirits by 25 cents a drink to help reduce the state’s $28 billion budget shortfall.

“A simple 25 cents per drink increase would generate $3.5 billion in revenue for the general fund ,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, Marin Institute’s executive director. “It’s common sense, fiscally responsible, and long overdue.”

The last alcohol tax increase in California was in 1992 and just a penny per glass of wine and two cents per can of beer and shot of spirits. Since then, rising inflation has led to a 33 percent decrease in state alcohol tax revenue. Moreover, Marin Institute estimates state and local government costs for alcohol-related problems to be $8 billion annually, including healthcare and criminal justice expenses, adding to the state’s economic woes.

“Every year thousands of California lives are cut short or forever damaged due to alcohol,” said Michele Simon, Marin Institute’s research and policy director. “Both the human toll and economic costs are staggering. Every year we don’t raise taxes on Big Alcohol translates into a government subsidy of corporate profits. It is high-time for our elected leaders to add an alcohol tax increase to any budget-balancing plan.”

Visit the Alcohol Revenue Calculator “cool tool” at MarinInstitute.org for more information on state income from alcohol tax increases.