A proposal introduced Wednesday by a Madison lawmaker would raise the state’s beer tax for the first time in 40 years if it is passed.
Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, is proposing to increase the state’s beer tax on a half barrel of beer from $2 to $10, meaning an increase of about 2.5 cents per individual bottle.
“If you drink a six pack a day, at the end of the week, you will have paid an additional dollar in taxes,” Berceau said. “[Wisconsin is] nationally renowned for having a drinking problem … the issue is that we don’t have enough money for education, prevention and treatment programs.”
Berceau wants to raise the beer tax and then use those funds to help foster and develop alcohol treatment programs.
This is the third time Berceau has introduced the bill in the Assembly. She said she keeps introducing it in an effort to help curb drunken driving in the state.
“Eventually, it’s going to get passed,” Berceau said. “I don’t know if I am going to get it passed this session. I still have a lot of legislators who don’t want to be voting for any tax increases.”
In addition to reducing drunken driving, Berceau said she also hopes the bill will prevent kids from starting to drink at an early age since the cost of beer will be higher.
“They might have a little harder time pooling their allowance,” Berceau said.
But according to the Associated Press, Gov. Jim Doyle is opposed to the increase and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, would prefer to not see the increase.
The legislation also faces strong opposition from the state’s beer industry, bars and restaurants.
“The worst possible time to look at doing something like this is in this economy,” Tavern League lobbyist Scott Stenger told the AP.
The bill will now head to the Assembly Committee on Public Safety and will then be heard at a public hearing.