The legislature’s Joint Revenue committee will discuss the possibility of raising the state beer tax Friday/Today.
Beer is currently taxed two cents a gallon, a tax that was established in 1935. Supporters want to raise the tax to pay for underfunded substance abuse programs. Wyoming has the lowest beer taxes in the nation.
Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness says communities have trouble finding money to pay for substance abuse programs, and he says that he’s disappointed that the Legislature has frequently scuttled attempts to raise the tax.
“I feel that it’s a weakness on the part of the legislature that they can look at the statistical evidence of what the needs are and choose not to support it.”
Mike Moser of the State Liquor Association fears that an increase would harm his industry because it would force beer prices to go up. He says if money is needed for substance abuse programs, that money should be diverted from taxes and fees that liquor dealers already pay.
“The total amount of money brought in by alcohol in Wyoming off taxes, mark-ups…etc… is around 12 million. The money is already there. They need to ask for it and justify it.”
Senator Ray Peterson of Cowley says that the state has limited funds and a new revenue stream would be useful to pay for the growing problems surrounding substance abuse. He proposes raising the tax to five or ten cents a gallon.