Health Advocates Taking Another Shot At Hiking Alcohol Tax
Health advocates are taking another stab at getting the New Mexico legislature to pass a big hike in liquor excise tax.
A similar bill died during the last session.
While addressing members of the Legislative Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee, the advocates presented statistics that show New Mexico has had the highest rate of alcohol related deaths in the country since 1997 and it reached an all-time high in 2021.
Public Health Advocate Shelly Mann-Lev is a member of the Alcohol Harms Alleviation or AHA coalition.
She told lawmakers with an increase of 25-cents per drink, New Mexico would raise $275 million a year that could be used for alcohol secession programs.
“We’ve got to have long term treatment, we have to have short term treatment, we have to have screening, we have to have home visitation, we have to do so many things,” she said. “We have to in particular make sure that our tribes, nations and pueblos have the resources they need to implement evidence based, promising strategies that are culturally sensitive so that they can address the disproportionate harms that are deeply, deeply harming our indian, pueblos and native-american communities.”
Under the new bill being presented, microbreweries and small winegrowers would not see an increase on their tax rate.
The bill would still have an uphill battle as some lawmakers say there should be more focus on the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, without harming the sellers and manufacturers.
Mark Chaiken is director of tax policy for the state Taxation and Revenue Department. He told the committee the current excise tax has been raising about $50 million a year, with 45% going to local DWI grant funds, 5% to the drug court and the rest into the state’s general fund.