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Deschutes Brewery, industry oppose proposed tax hikes on beer, wine and cider

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Health Authority has proposed to lawmakers increased taxes on beer, wine and ciders, as well as cigarettes, in its new budget.

According to the Oregon Beer & Wine Distributors Association, the 2021-23 biennium proposal would mean a $293 million tax increase on their industries of 800 percent.

If the Legislature approves the tax increases, the money raised would go to programs to help fight addiction.

The agency stated: "...Alcohol imposes large and avoidable costs on the health of all people in Oregon, and on Oregon's economy, communities and health care systems."

Lauding the move is Mike Marshall, co-founder and director of Oregon Recovers.

"As of last year, 9.3 percent of the population, so that's almost 400,000 Oregonians who have (been) untreated, and we rank 47th in access to treatment for people who need treatment," he said. "So there's a correlation there."

Marshall said he wishes the proposed taxes also included hard alcohol.

"Price is important at the low cost of things, the bottom-shelf alcohol, it's the bottom-shelf beer and wine --- those are the things the kids are buying, those are the things the binge drinkers are buying," he said.

Marshall maintained, however that, this move is a great first step.

"The breweries are not going to feel this, right?" he said. "If you go walking into your favorite brew pub and you order a beer for what $7, is that what it cost?"

"And it goes up to $8 under this proposal. There aren't many people that are going to stop going out to those (places)."

The beer and wine industry group said this week a recent survey found more than 80% of Oregonians oppose increasing beer taxes.

On Thursday, Deschutes Brewery CEO Michael Lalonde who opposes the tax hike, spoke to NewsChannel 21.

"For an 800 percent increase in our excise tax for the state of Oregon is a burden that beer manufacturers, craft brewers, restaurants bars retailers all of those businesses can't really take on right now," Lalonde said.

"We've gone through so much with COVID, the shutdowns that happened the layoffs that happened in the industry," he added.

Lalonde said he feels these industries are already heavily taxed.

"The average price of a six-pack at retail, 47 percent is taxes -- that's pretty incredible," he said.

He also thinks it could have an impact on his customer base.

"Some people think that when there's an increase in taxes that all of the businesses will just absorb it, which is something we just can't do," Lalonde said.

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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