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Campaign Planned to Boost Alcohol Tax For Health Funding

Health advocates will launch a campaign Wednesday to increase the state's tax on alcohol by a dime a drink to fund a plan for universal health care. But the initiative is likely to be dead on arrival in Annapolis, at least in 2009.

Prominent public health experts are scheduled to support the idea at a 10 a.m. press conference at the offices of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative in Baltimore.

The nonprofit group unveiled a $15.5 billion plan last month to subsidize insurance coverage for low-income residents with a payroll tax and increases to cigarette and alcohol taxes.

Taxes on beer and wine have been steady for years--at 9 cents a gallon for beer and 40 cents a gallon for wine (unchanged since 1972) and $1.50 a gallon for spirits (unchanged since 1955). Health advocates want to boost the rates to $1.16 per gallon for beer, $2.96 per gallon for wine, and $10.03 per gallon for distilled spirits.

But the plan, while lauded by key lawmakers in the General Assembly, probably will have no legs in the upcoming session that starts in January, largely because the weak economy is forcing steep budget cuts and the appetite for new programs will be limited.
The alcohol lobby also is a powerful special interest in Annapolis.

The Citizens' Health Initiative is located at 2600 St. Paul St.

By Lisa Rein  |  December 1, 2008; 3:57 PM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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Comments

Tobacco and alcohol cause serious health problems. So having a financial disincentive to use them is probably a good thing.

But homeowners need a break too in this economy where the DOW dropped 600+ today. So reduce the state property tax by the amount raised by the new tobacco and alcohol taxes.

Posted by: robinfickerofrobinrealty | December 1, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

The Maryland political problem solver checklist:

1) Is there a problem?
2) Raise taxes.

Posted by: byte1 | December 2, 2008 2:42 AM | Report abuse

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