Alcohol tax could help group

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 31, 2002

With the state of Minnesota's budget looking bleak, organizations are searching for other ways to obtain funding.

One such organization, Minnesota Joining Together, which focuses on drinking issues, is contemplating the possibility of raising the excise tax on alcoholic beverages 5 cents. If that were to happen, Parenting Resource Center Social Programs Manager and Minnesota Joining Together representative Kirsten Lindbloom explains the coalition would have $100 million more to spend on education, prevention and treatment of alcohol-related issues. In addition, the Mower County Chemical Health Coalition says raising the price of alcohol reduces the number of underage drinkers.

While the raise in excise tax has not been formally proposed to the state legislature, Minnesota Joining Together has been trying to raise awareness and get public input about the idea through its "Nickel a Drink" program. To participate in the program, a person just has to pick up a static "Nickel a Drink" decal from the PRC and fill out an entry form for a drawing for prizes worth $1,000, such as a washer and dryer, a gas grill, a savings bond, a travel gift certificate or a 36-inch TV with DVD player.

Email newsletter signup

If the person puts the decal on their vehicle and it is spotted by a PRC employee, that person will get five more entries into the drawing.

"We're just curious to know what people think," Lindbloom says. "People get excited when you talk about taxing things, but this is a user tax. It's not like property tax or income tax. If you don't use it, you don't have to pay for it. "

She also says "I don't think people know how much excise tax they pay. It's only 1.4 cents per beverage and there's been no increase in the last 15 years. If it were raised five cents and you had five drinks in an evening, that's only 25 cents. That's what you lose in the laundry. That's what you find in the couch. That's not that much."

The PRC first broached the public with the idea at the Mower County Fair earlier this month and Lindbloom says the response "for the most part, has been very positive. We only really talked to people who stopped at the fair, but they thought it was a good way, a logical way to raise money. It makes sense to tax the product that is the source of the 'problem.'"

Though the proposal probably will not proposed in the state legislature's 2003 session, she predicts "that in two or three years, it will be something the legislature will have to deal with."

For more information, to give feedback or take part in the free drawing, go the PRC at 301 N. Main St, on the lower level of the US Bank building. The drawing will be held at 8:45 a.m., Wednesday and will be broadcast on KAUS-AM radio.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at