State Budget Cuts Stopped by Beer and Ale Tax?

by Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - An excise tax is an extra tax put on the sale of a particular good.

And, in this case, advocates say increasing the excise tax on beer and ale in the state may be just what we need to rescue state programs in financial jeopardy.

Statistically, the Lone Star State is one of the top beer-drinking states in the country, but they're also among the lowest ranking in beer and ale excise taxes.

And during a budget crunch, some say that needs to change.

"Beer is one of the less expensive beverages on the market. It's less expensive than orange juice and milk," Charles Hodges, CEO of Stop DWI, Inc., said.

Hodges believes it's time to raise that tax.

Neighboring states like Oklahoma and New Mexico tax 40 and 41 cents per gallon respectively.

Texas comes in at 19 cents a gallon and Hodges wants it raised to 35 cents.

"Other states are doing it," Hodges said. "And they're finding out that the increased revenue is filling the gaps in their state budget. Somehow Texas just doesn't get around to doing it."

Texas made more than $8 million in excise taxes on beer and ale in just November.

Hodges says with the increase, we could be making four million more a month.

With talks of cuts to programs like DWI rehabilitation, services to crime victims, schools, even Medicaid, money from that increased tax could make a big difference.

And Hodges says it would only raise the price of beer and ale by a nickel.

"To me it's easy money. It's there, available. People are gonna consume alcohol, I don't care how bad the economy gets. They're still gonna do it," Hodges said.

And Midlanders NewsWest 9 spoke to vouched for that too.

"I doubt if it would discourage me," Aubry Glosson of Midland, said. "It's just kind of like gasoline or anything else. You keep an eye on it."

There was a House Bill introduced into the state legislature four years ago that considered increasing the excise tax on beer and ale as well as candy, soda pop, and other items.

But by the time it was approved, the alcohol had been dropped from that list.

No word yet on whether or not this increase will be heard again.