Monday, August 16, 2010

I-1105's imaginary financial gains

The Initiative 1105 campaign claims that its initiative "guarantees $100 million or more in additional revenue to the state in the next 5 years" . But the initiative itself makes no such guarantee. It does repeal all existing taxes on liquor, replacing it only with a directive that the Liquor Board issue a non-binding recommendation to the Legislature for a brand new liquor tax. In other words, it repeals the liquor tax and the rest is up to the Legislature. That's a big difference between 1100 and 1105. If 1100 passes, the liquor stays the same unless the Legislature votes to change it. If 1105 passes, the liquor tax disappears, unless the Legislature votes in a brand new one.

Not to be deterred by the plain language of its own initiative which offers no assurances about new tax rates, the campaign posted on its web site last week projections claiming that I-1105 "will raise at least another $130 million revenue for the state, counties and cities over the next five years."
Curiously enough, the same campaign concurrently posts on a different page on its same website a completely different set of numbers claiming that I-1105 would increase revenue by $98 million.

The $130 million prediction assumes that the new tax would be $6.35 a liter, plus the normal retail sales tax of "8%" and a bonus $66.9 million from selling the liquor board's merchandising assets. The $98 million prediction assumes that the new tax will be $9.77 a liter, with no retail sales tax and $98 million from selling the board's merchandising assets.

What are the right numbers? $98 million or $130 million? $6.35 a liter or $9.77 a liter? Nobody can possibly know. But the 1105 folks do have vivid imaginations.

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