Leddy pushes alcohol tax to pay for treatment programs

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(Host) Senator Jim Leddy (D-Chittenden County) says he’s going ahead with legislation to raise alcohol taxes to pay for new drug treatment programs, even though Governor Jim Douglas strongly opposes the plan.

Under Leddy’s proposal, an additional tax of two cents would be imposed on a bottle of beer, ten cents on a gallon of wine, and the tax on spirits would be increased 1.5%. The tax package is designed to raise roughly $5 million to develop comprehensive alcohol and drug treatment programs.

Leddy, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, says the tax increases are needed because the governor’s drug proposals do not fully address the crisis that the state is facing:

(Leddy) “The governor has said that taxes would be a very, very last resort. I would have to question or ask the question, when do we recognize the substance abuse epidemic in our state as a desperate last resort that requires resources and services? And I think the time is now.”

(Host) Douglas insists that his drug proposals do deal with this issue in a comprehensive manner and he says it’s wrong to raise taxes.

(Douglas) “I’m not interested in raising taxes, although some legislators are. I believe that we can take a very significant step during the coming year with the resources that I’ve allocated in my budget without new taxes.”

(Host) It’s likely that the Senate Finance committee will look at this issue in the coming weeks.

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