Another state is looking to enhance their revenue by tapping brewers on the shoulder. According to a report in yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “[t]wo Democratic legislators vowed Monday to try to tap the state’s beer drinkers by seeking approval of a fivefold increase in Wisconsin’s $2-a-barrel beer tax, which has not been raised in 38 years.” Berceau wants to raise the tax to $10 per barrel supposedly to fund programs to “fight drunken driving and treat alcohol addiction and mental illness.” As recent studies have indicated though, such raises rarely result in the goals intended. I’ll never understand why responsible drinkers and brewers who contribute positively to the economy are routinely targeted for this kind of punishment because of a few bad apples. We don’t tax sugar makers and soda companies to fund health centers to treat obesity. We don’t ask people who can enjoy one piece of chocolate cake to foot the bill for over-eaters and the health costs they add to society, nor should we. Berceau wants the tax on a six-pack to be 18 cents, up from its previous level of 3.6 cents, which would add as much as $48 million to the amount people would have to spend to buy the same amount of beer.
“Wisconsin’s beer tax hasn’t been raised since ‘man walked on the moon,’ said Berceau, whose efforts to raise the tax have failed in the past,” suggesting she’s been in bed with her sponsors for some time. Those sponsors, some of whom presumably have made campaign contributions, include “the Wisconsin Prevention Network; the American Society of Addiction Medicine; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; the Mental Health Association of Wisconsin; and the National Association for the Mentally Ill of Wisconsin.”
According to the national Beer Institute, Wisconsin ranked sixth in beer consumption in 2006, with an average of 38.2 gallons consumed for every person 21 and older. Wisconsin’s $2-a-barrel tax is third lowest in the nation, behind the 59-cent levy in Wyoming and the $1.86 tax in Missouri.