I tend to agree with the Boston Globe editorial pages and columnist Derrick Jackson — a “NO” vote on Question One in Nov. 2 is prudent, thereby keeping the 6.25 tax on alcoholic beverages.
According to the state Department of Revenue, the tax raised $97 million in fiscal year 2010. It is projected to rise to $110 million in fiscal year 2011. Already, in the first quarter of the new fiscal 2011, the sales tax brought in $33.2 million, $4 million more than what was projected. The numbers further suggest that sales of alcohol at liquor stores have not substantially declined.
As Jackson notes, the sales tax on liquor has notable benefits. It is dedicated to state substance abuse programs. Michael Botticelli, state director of substance abuse services, says the taxes have insulated his department from deeper cuts. Further, the tax may discourage younger drinkers, since higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol have an effect on underage consumers, who are price-sensitive.
Bottom-line: the funds raised through the alcohol tax are used for programs to reduce teen drinking and for treatment services to help people beat addictions and get their lives back on track. Those are admirable goals and programs, which should be encouraged.