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Senate Corporations & Transportation Committee Hearing – February 20, 2017

Senate Corporations & Transportation Committee Hearing – February 20, 2017

Selected Transcripts on SB314 to raise the Alcohol Excise Tax

Opponents of an alcohol excise tax increase have threatened Senators.

Sen. Michael Padilla: “I got calls at two in the morning . . . threatening me. Threatening me on this issue if I don’t vote against this bill.”

“My family does not appreciate being threatened this way.”

 

“It’s my first time as a legislator that I felt threatened, and I didn’t like that one bit. You can call me and tell me whatever you want to tell me, but when it affects my family like that – uh nah.”

Sen. William Sharer: “If you want to fight, I’m damn ready to fight. And if you want to turn my vote wrong, you threaten my life or threaten my family.”

The Alcohol Industry is unwilling to compromise to negotiate a new excise tax rate.

Sen. Cisco McSorley, bill sponsor: “I’m open to discussion.”

Sen. Clemente Sanchez, Committee Chair: “What’s the industry think? Can you sit down with the Senator and work something out, and then we’ll bring this back?”

John Tompkins, Industry Lobbyist representing three distributors: “Mr. Chairman, I’d be reluctant to say yes to answer that.”

Jimmy Bates, Premier Distributing: “Do I think we’d be open to a tax increase, no.”

Micro Brewers Relationship to the Hospitality & Alcohol Industries

John Gozigian, Executive Director New Mexico Brewers Guild: “We appreciate the Senator [McSorley] reaching out to us and offering to raise this barrelage limit to carve out the breweries, but it overlooks the fact that we’re part of an ecosystem that includes restaurants, hoteliers, our partners in the distribution business, and grocers in New Mexico.

Original Source

Here’s the link for the full hearing: https://www.nmlegis.gov/

click on webcast, then search for: Senate Corporations & Transportation Committee Monday, Feb. 20 4:50 PM

Action on SB314 starts at the 8:01:20 PM time mark

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We’ve got a bill in the Senate!

We’ve got a bill in the Senate and will soon have one in the House!

Our thanks to Sen. Cisco McSorley for sponsoring SB 314 that raises most New Mexico alcohol excise tax rates 25¢ per drink. Having made it this far has caused the Brewer’s Guild to go on the war path. It’s led to a lot of misinformation being spread that I’d like to correct.

First and foremost, Sen. McSorely has always supported reduced tax rates for small brewers and local wineries. He voted for Micro Breweries and Small Wineries having the reduced tax rate when it was first nearly a decade ago. And nothing I’ve heard in him say suggests he’s wavering from supporting them again today.

SB 314 was intended to exempt small wineries and microbreweries from the 25¢ per drink tax increase imposed on larger distributors hawking out of state products. However, state law lists alcohol tax rates by the gallon or liter, not by the drink. Due to a math rounding error when multiplying this out, the bill raises the rate for microbreweries by .03 cents per gallon. Word I hear from Senators on the Corporations and Transportation Committee that will be hearing the bill is to expect an amendment eliminating the .03 cent increase.

By keeping the tax rates virtually the same for small wineries and microbreweries, while raising them for larger distributors, SB 314 gives and an even greater competitive advantage to local brewers than they already have. That’s why I find it surprising that the Brewer’s Guild has become all hot and bothered by the bill. My guess is that some of the “small” brewers aren’t so small anymore and they’re trying to avoid having to pay the same tax rates as the big distributors pay.

If a distributor sells more than 15,000 gallons of beer under current law, it will be taxed at 41¢ per gallon, rather than the reduced rate of 8¢ per gallon breweries producing less than 15,000 gallons get taxed at. If Micro Breweries want the exemption to be higher than 15,000 gallons in order to help them grow their businesses even larger, they should ask for that, rather than criticize a bill that creates and even more favorable price differential between large and small beer distributors.

Word I get from the Representatives and Senators I’ve talked to is that nearly all would be favorable to a request raise the exemption threshold. Which makes it even more strange that the Brewer’s Guild seems to be provoking name-calling and web-trolling rather then trying to sit down and talk with lawmakers about their needs. What I’m hearing across the board is that their tactics aren’t winning them any new friends and is starting to ware thin on long time supporters of their industry.

Another important point of clarification is that through an error, SB 314 inadvertently raised the tax rates on cider producers, which was not the intention of the bill’s sponsor, Sen. McSorely. I fully expect to see an amendment in committee that will exempt NM Cider producers from any alcohol excise tax increases.

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A "Garland" of Mini Bottles

A "Garland" of Mini Bottles

Kayla Krattiger made a "garland" of mini bottles I collected over the same 3 mile stretch of road, over 8 consecutive weeks, in Espanola. It's about 30 ft long. It’s another reason why subsidizing alcohol with consumption with low tax rates causes messes the public has to clean up.  Happy Holidays!

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Journal Poll: NM voters want mix of tax hikes, spending cuts

Journal Poll: NM voters want mix of tax hikes, spending cuts

An articke by By Dan Boyd / Journal Capitol Bureau Chief appeared Monday, October 3rd, 2016 in the Albuquerque Journal detailing a poll which found A majority of likely New Mexico voters prefer solving a massive state budget crunch with a mix of targeted tax increases on such items as alcohol and spending cuts, while less than a third of voters favor relying solely on steep budget cuts to state programs and services,". 

You can read the full article here

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Opinion piece in the Las Cruces Sun-News

Opinion piece in the Las Cruces Sun-News

Momentum is building across the state for raising alcohol taxes. Marisol Diaz, For the Sun-News on September 25, 2016 provided an opinion piece in support of the Alcohol Tax.

Raising alcohol taxes 25 cents per drink is very popular with New Mexico voters. Last month, Research & Polling, Inc. - New Mexico’s most respected opinion polling firm – conducted a poll of registered voters in Doña Ana, Luna and Otero counties. It found that 77 percent of voters in these counties support raising alcohol taxes 25 cents per drink. Support is not only strong with voters but was also shown to be strongly supported regardless of one’s political affiliation. Republicans supported the measure by a 2-1 margin, Democrats 5-1, and Independents 6½-1.

You can read the ful article here

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Dr. Peter DeBenedittis Podcast with Richard Eeds KVSF

Dr. Peter DeBenedittis Podcast with Richard Eeds KVSF

Listen to the interview with Peter published by The Richard Eeds Show - September, 14th, 2016.

Peter discused how the 25c Alcohol Tax would help with the state budget problems and how this oppertunity was gaining momentum in the state.

Or check out the original story on http://santafe.com.

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More News Outlets Take Up The Message

More News Outlets Take Up The Message

The NM Political Report commented on September 7th, 2016 when Matthew Reichbach published an article confirming that Alcohol Taxes Save Lives and Money, hand-delivered a letter to the governor’s office in Santa Fe asking that she put the proposal on the agenda for a special session. It went on to explain that Spokesmen for Gov. Susana Martinez’s office did not respond to an email seeking comment. Her public information officers typically do not respond to requests for comment from NM Political Report. You can read the full report here

Donald Jaramillo for Cibola Beacon wrote a full lenth article discussing the upcoming special session and budget shortfall. He quoted Senator Clemente Sanchez of Grants discusing the various options for closing the shortfall. You can read the full story here.

A news article was published in The KUNM on September 13th, 2016 when KUNM interviewed Dr. Peter DeBenedittis. It gave Peter the ioppertunity to explaine the plan for an upcoming special session that would raise taxes on all alcoholic beverages. The group recently commissioned a poll that found a majority of New Mexicans are in favor that idea—but Governor Susana Martinez has said she won’t support any kind of tax hike. You can read the full report here.

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Legislative panel hears arguments for liquor tax increase

Legislative panel hears arguments for liquor tax increase

Originally reported by Andy Lyman in the NM Political Repor

TAOS — An advocacy group pushing for an increase in alcohol taxes in New Mexico encouraged lawmakers Tuesday to bring the issue to the upcoming special session

Alcohol Taxes Save Lives Director Peter DeBenedittis presented his findings to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee that show many likely voters in the state are in favor of increasing taxes on alcohol by 25 cents a drink.

DeBenedittis told NM Political Report he wants to see his proposal considered for the upcoming special session, but has been unable to arrange a meeting with the governor. Gov. Susana Martinez has continually said she is opposed to any tax increases.

Read the full Article

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New Poll Shows 76% of New Mexico Voters Support Raising Alcohol Taxes 25¢ a drink

New Poll Shows 76% of New Mexico Voters Support Raising Alcohol Taxes 25¢ a drink

A telephone survey of 405 likely voters shows strong support for a 25¢ per drink tax increase on alcohol purchases in New Mexico and using the revenue for alcohol and drug prevention and treatment as well as health care in the State.  In total, just over three-in-four voters say they either strongly support (51%) or somewhat support (25%) a proposed 25¢ per drink tax on alcohol compared to 21% who are opposed.  
Informing voters that the proposed 25¢ per drink alcohol tax will increase the cost for a six-pack of beer by $1.50, a bottle of wine by $1.25, and a fifth of liquor by $4.00 has only a small impact on overall support levels.  In total 71% say they either strongly support (49%) or somewhat support (22%) the 25¢ per drink tax when given the additional cost information, down only slightly from the 76% who were initially supportive of the proposal.
Support levels remain steady (71%) when voters are informed the revenue generated from the 25¢ per drink tax would be used to help fund New Mexico’s Medicaid program, with 53% who say they strongly support the tax increase and 18% who are somewhat supportive.
Generally speaking, voters are far more supportive of raising taxes on alcohol as a way to deal with projected state budget shortfalls as compared to raising taxes on food in grocery stores or raising taxes on gasoline.  When given these three choices (or volunteering a response), over three-fifths (63%) of voters say they would prefer raising taxes on alcohol, compared to 9% who favor raising taxes on gasoline, and just 3% who would favor taxing food in grocery stores.  Another 3% volunteered raising taxes on cigarettes/tobacco.

Read Full Report

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Alcohol Tax In the News

Alcohol Tax In the News

During the past weeks there have been many articles and opinions published in the new that support saving lives through a new Alcohol Tax.

[1] Alamogordon News - What’s the science on alcohol taxes?

ALAMOGORDO As a community member and a public health professional, I was grateful for the recent coverage by the Alamogordo Daily News of the “Alcohol Taxes Saves Lives and Money” Summit held last week. Read More

[2] KOB4 - Group proposes alcohol tax increase to boost budget, discourage abuse

A local group says it has a plan to help the state’s budget deficit while cutting down on the damage done by excessive drinking.

The group Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money wants to raise the state alcohol tax by 25 cents per drink no later than the 2017 Legislative Session. For example, that would amount to an extra $1.50 for a six pack of beer. Read More

[3 ]Alamogordon News - Officials discuss alcohol tax hike

ALAMOGORDO - Public health professionals met with the community on Tuesday to discuss New Mexico raising the tax on alcohol.

“The YMCA of El Paso/Southern New Mexico and the local health council invited Dr. Peter DeBenedittis, the director of Alcohol Taxes Save Lives and Money coalition, to speak to us about their efforts,” said Holly Mata, local health professional. “Specifically  the impact on New Mexico of reducing alcohol consumption and reducing the problems associated with people drinking too much.” Read More

[4]  The Taos News- My Turn: Alcohol taxes save lives

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), New Mexico leads the country’s statistics with an astonishing 16.4 percent of deaths directly caused by alcohol. Abusive drinking not only costs us lives but money as well. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2013) reported the total economic cost of excessive alcohol consumption in New Mexico at a staggering $1,876,108,000. Read More

[5] Alamogordon News - What’s the science on alcohol taxes?

ALAMOGORDO As a community member and a public health professional, I was grateful for the recent coverage by the Alamogordo Daily News of the “Alcohol Taxes Saves Lives and Money” Summit held last week.

The third in a series of forums in Southern New Mexico this year, the Summit was an opportunity for people to learn about statewide efforts to increase alcohol taxes in New Mexico. Alcohol taxes haven’t been raised in the state since 1993. Read More

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Published in The New Mexico Political Report

Published in The New Mexico Political Report

A news article titled Group: "Increasing alcohol tax will help ease state budget woes" was written by on

Within the article it was reported that "There’s still no word on if or when Gov. Susana Martinez will call a special session to address the state’s money shortfall, but one nonprofit group wants lawmakers to consider a tax increase on alcohol sales as a way to increase state revenues."

You can read the full article online here.

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Just Published. Two New Reports

Just Published. Two New Reports

Healthy Places Consulting, LLC has just completed two reports modeling the cost savings generated by a 25c increase in the State Alcohol tax for Cancer Patients and Medicaid Recipients. These reports can be seen on our "The Facts" page. 

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Dr. Peter DeBenedittis On An Excise Tax on Alcoholic Drinks & Packaged Liquor

Dr. Peter DeBenedittis On An Excise Tax on Alcoholic Drinks & Packaged Liquor

Listen to the interview with Peter published by The Richard Eeds Show - May 18, 2016.

Peter outlined how a $0.25 increase in tax on alcohol would help save lives and generate funds for the states Medicaid. You can hear the whole interview using the player below.

Or check out the originalstory on http://santafe.com.

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American Institute for Cancer Research blogs on Alcohol risks.

American Institute for Cancer Research blogs on Alcohol risks.

The American Institute for Cancer Research posted a blog "Alcohol and Cancer Link Highlighted at Alcohol Policy Conference". The post reported from the 17thAnnual Alcohol Policy Conference near Washington DC. AICR’s evidence clearly and consistently shows that alcohol is linked to increased risk for several different cancers. In a session focusing on the alcohol-cancer link, Robert Pezzolesi, of the New York Alcohol Policy Alliance, led off by citing an AICR survey on the relatively low level of US awareness (43%) of the link between alcohol and cancer risk.

You can read the full article here

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Reader View: Stop subsidizing excessive drinking

In an article earlier this year (“Advocates fear looming cuts to N.M. behavioral health services,” Jan. 31),The New Mexicanreported: “Both the governor and the Legislature have asked for a reduction in spending on the Human Services Department’s Behavioral Health Services Division, which has been critical in funding substance-abuse prevention programs across the state.”

This is a backward policy. Right now our lawmakers are choosing to subsidize excessive drinking and the harm it causes. Whether or not a person drinks, every New Mexican pays $406 a year in taxes to cover the costs of ambulances, indigent and emergency room care, extra police work, court cases and detention for excessive drinkers and the people they injure through car crashes and assaults. Increasing the alcohol excise tax by 25 cents per drink lets excessive drinking pay for excessive drinking harms.

Our state would see an annual revenue boost of $154 million by raising alcohol excise taxes 25 cents per drink. Imagine if we used that money to pay for services being slashed. Every dollar spent on prevention now saves $9 down the road. Or better yet, for the required 5 percent match for the newly insured by Medicaid?

Over the past two years, the federal government paid for expanding Medicaid to more than 200,000 previously uninsured New Mexicans. Starting in 2017, we’re required to pay a 5 percent match to keep this health care bonanza serving our state. Instead of looking for ways to slash funds, lawmakers should be rejoicing that the federal government will give a 95 percent Medicaid expansion match —pumping more than $1.6 billion back into New Mexico’s stagnant economy — if only we show the political will to make the initial payment, which raising alcohol taxes can provide.

Alcohol excise taxes haven’t been raised since 1993. That’s more than 20 years in a row alcohol that companies have been give what amounts to a tax break due to inflation. Can you say your taxes haven’t been raised since 1993? Alcohol companies sure can.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, only 18 percent of New Mexicans drink excessively, yet excessive drinking costs the state economy $2.2 billion a year, due to lost workdays, workplace accidents and increased insurance costs. Raising the alcohol excise tax 25 cents per drink in New Mexico would boost the state economy by $128 million a year by eliminating about 10 percent of these costs. On top of this, it would create 2,700 new jobs because of the increased tax revenues, over and above accounting for jobs lost in the liquor industry.

So what’s it going to be? Continue to subsidize excessive drinking and the harms it causes, or let the 18 percent of excessive drinking New Mexicans pay for the harms their behavior creates by raising the alcohol excise tax 25 cents a drink? Force cash-strapped New Mexicans to each pay more than $400 a year in unnecessary taxes and business owners to lose $2.2 billion in revenues, or shift the cost to those who are creating the problem?

See the state’s economy lose another $1.6 billion a year in federal health care funding — forcing counties to use local taxes to pick up that slack and pay for indigent care for the more than 200,000 newly insured Medicaid enrollees — or use some of the revenues generated from an alcohol tax increase to pay a 5 percent match to keep people healthy? There’s plenty of money for behavior health care available, but our lawmakers first need to stop subsidizing the health harms caused by excessive drinking.

Peter DeBenedittis, Ph.D., is director of Alcohol Taxes Save Lives and Money (www.alcoholtaxessavelives.org).

Originaly Posted in Santafe New Mexican April 9th 2016 see the original article.

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Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money Featured On Dateline New Mexico

Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money  Featured On Dateline New Mexico

On March 30th , 2016 Peter DeBenedittis was interviewed about Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money by Tom Trowbridge, the host of Dateline New Mexico and broadcast on KNAW.

Peter outlined how a $0.25 increase in tax on alcohol would help save lives and generate funds for the states Medicaid. You can hear the whole interview using the player below.

Or you can play it direct from the KNAW Link.

Used with permission from Dateline New Mexico a division of Mills Broadcasting.

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Tax alcohol to rescue Medicaid

Tax alcohol to rescue Medicaid

Rather than kill off what helps New Mexicans by cutting Medicaid, we should be raising alcohol taxes so we can put an end to what’s really breaking our state’s budget and causing so much of our medical woes.

The Journal’s March 10 editorial raised the alarm that we’re looking at a $417 million Medicaid shortfall. If you think that’s a ridiculously high amount, you’ll be stunned to know that the cost of excessive drinking to New Mexico’s local and state governments in 2013 was $793,500,000! These are costs hidden in our personal income and gross receipts taxes to pay for the extra police, ambulances, court cases, detention and hospital care that results from excessive drinking.

Only 18 percent of New Mexicans drink excessively. The other 82 percent of us drink responsibly or don’t drink at all. So whether or not you drink you’re being taxed the equivalent of $1 per drink for someone who’s getting sloshed. This costs each of us $400 per person per year in “hidden” taxes.

If we want to keep the state healthy, let’s raise alcohol taxes. We can recoup some of the money excessive drinking costs taxpayers and use it for the Medicaid shortfall. New Mexico leads the nation in alcohol-related deaths. Sixteen percent of all deaths in our state are caused by the alcohol crashes, poisonings and long-term diseases like liver failure and breast cancer that excessive drinking causes.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s Community Advisory Panel, raising alcohol taxes is the most effective way to reduce the health harms caused by excessive drinking.

The Alcohol Taxes Saves Lives & Money coalition has been advocating for a 25-cent-per-drink increase to the alcohol excise tax. Alcohol taxes haven’t been raised in New Mexico since 1993. Can you say that about your taxes?

Even though a 25-cent-per-drink increase in alcohol taxes would only recoup a quarter of the harms caused by excessive drinking, it would be a step toward having excessive drinkers pay for the harms their actions cause – rather than continuing to dump these costs on taxpayers.

And raising alcohol excise taxes would not only generate money to help pay for the Medicaid shortfall, it would significantly reduce health care costs because it would reduce alcohol consumption among excessive drinkers by about 10 percent. Their reduced drinking would, over the long run, prevent a sizeable chunk of the diseases Medicaid is being asked to pay for.

A 25-cent-per-drink increase in the alcohol excise tax would raise $154 million a year in revenues. That would be more than enough to pay for the match required for the 200,000 newly enrolled Medicaid recipients and still leave some money to go toward making up the $417 million shortfall. Remember, in 2017 the federal government will be paying a 95 percent match for these 200,000-plus enrollees if we put up the initial 5 percent. The federal match would bring over $1 billion in health care funding to New Mexico, so we’d be fools to let that economic boom slip away.

The beauty of using increased alcohol excise taxes to pay for Medicaid is that the CDC reports 49 percent of New Mexicans haven’t had a drink in the last 30 days. So about half of us won’t be paying an extra cent to keep our state healthy. The 32 percent of New Mexicans who drink responsibly would average paying only about $11 more per year – a small price considering the harms excessive drinking causes. The bulk of the tax increase will be borne by the 18 percent causing the biggest problems.

Before cutting Medicaid, our lawmakers should own up to the fact that they’ve let the alcohol industry get a free pass while every New Mexican is being required to pay $400 a year to subsidize excessive drinking. By shifting the burden of paying for excessive drinking harms to excessive drinkers, we’ll go a long way toward having the money needed to keep Medicaid funded. And we’ll also gain the benefit of having less health care costs over time that Medicaid has to pay out.

All figures used in this editorial are from a report funded by Bernalillo County on the impact of a 25-cent-per-drink alcohol excise tax increase. The full report is available here.

Originaly published March 16th, 2016 in the Albuquerque Journal

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Group Working On Effort To Raise Alcohol Excise Tax

Group Working On Effort To Raise Alcohol Excise Tax

Reporter Samantha Sonne, a multimedia reporter for KRWG- TV/FM, produced a piece titled "Group Working On Effort To Raise Alcohol Excise Tax" for Southern New Mexico Public Television. During the 3 minute piece Peter is quoted as saying “Every drink that a person drinks Taxpayers pay a dollar additional in hidden tax, for police, and ambulance, and court costs. These are things that taxpayers have to pay, and when legislators figure out why are we taxing people, we should have the excessive drinkers pay for it. They are going to realize alcohol taxes save lives and save money.” You can see the whole segment on the krwg.org website.

Watch the Interview

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Alcohol Taxes Saves Lives gets op-ed piece posted in NM’s largest newspaper

The latest article "Subsidizing excessive drinking is NM’s ‘runaway train’" written by Peter Debenedittis / Director, Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money was published in the Albuquerque Journal on Saturday, November 7th, 2015

Subsidizing excessive drinking is NM’s ‘runaway train’

It’s really sad when lawmakers bemoan the cost of public health with slurs like “a runaway train.” Here’s the real train wreck in tax policy – subsidizing excessive drinking. Whether or not a person drinks, every New Mexican pays $406 a year in taxes to cover the costs of ambulances, indigent and emergency room care, extra police work, court cases and detention for excessive drinkers and the people they injure through car crashes and assaults.
Increasing the alcohol excise tax by 25 cents per drink lets excessive drinking pay for excessive drinkingharms......

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Welcome to the launch of the Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money Website.

Welcome to the launch of the Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money Website.

You’re looking at the fruit from more than a year’s worth of effort by volunteer activists spanning New Mexico. We’re people and organizations concerned public health and wasting tax dollars to clean up after excessive drinking. North from Raton, Taos and Farmington to south from Demining, Las Cruces and Alamogordo, New Mexicans are making their voices heard on this website.

We’re tired of subsidizing drunk driving crashes and creating needless trauma in families by keeping the prices of alcohol artificially low!

Did you know the last time the alcohol excise tax was raised in New Mexico was more than 20 years ago? That’s like giving a tax break to the alcohol industry every year because of inflation. And it means that New Mexicans are unwittingly making it cheaper each year for the costs of excessive drinking to mount. Right now, whether you drink or not, New Mexican’s pay over $400 a year in state and local taxes to pay for the police, legal and medical costs created by the 19% of New Mexicans who drink excessively.

It’s not fair! It’s time we let excessive drinking pay for excessive drinking harms, by raising the alcohol excise tax 25¢ per drink.

All the data on this website has be thoroughly vetted by the nation’s top public health, tax economists & UNM professors. The report & fact sheets modeling the benefits New Mexicans will enjoy from passing a 25¢ per drink contain the latest data as collected by the Centers for Disease Control and the New Mexico Departments of Health and Taxation and Revenue.

Thanks for learning about this and sharing this information with your peers and the policy makers who represent you.

Peter DeBenedittis, Ph.D.
Director, Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money

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