Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wining and Dining

As we mentioned in our previous post, the worsening budget deficit is boosting the wine in grocery store issue; and the Indian cigarette tax collection as well. Here's Mike Gormley's incisive AP story: "Proposals to sell wine in supermarkets and collect cigarette taxes on Indian reservations are gaining ground in the Legislature as they are promoted as ways to raise millions in revenues in tough times. A week before the new fiscal year, a new projection shows the budget deficit deepening by $2.2 billion and Gov. David Paterson says he must resort to layoffs for the first time in more than a decade to shed 8,900 jobs."

And the previously cited NY Times story puts to rest all of the scare tactics of the Last Store Standing coalition-drunk driving, closed stores, lost jobs; all a chimera conjured up in the fertile mind of Mike McKeon. The reality here is that NY State's in trouble, and the $160 million in fees are badly needed to close the budget gap that is now approaching $16 billion.

As Gormley points out: "On Tuesday, a coalition of grocery stores, bodegas, wine sellers and vintners pushed for a law to allow wine to be sold in supermarkets, as it is in 35 states. They say it will create thousands of jobs from western New York farms to factories in central New York to bodegas in the Bronx while giving a boost to New York's wine industry and tourism. "We view wine as table food," said Nicholas D'Agostino III, president of D'Agostino Supermarkets based in Westchester County. "Consumers deserve the same choice and convenience that consumers get in these states." They say sales will increase state revenues by $160 million in the first two years, save New Yorkers $80 million in lower prices through greater competition and add 2,000 net jobs."

And as far as the Indians are concerned: "Calling it "the forgotten billion-dollar stimulus," the New York Association of Convenience Stores and anti-smoking groups pushed for Paterson to enforce a law that would collect sales tax on cigarettes sold by tribes worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue. Although treaties allow Indians to avoid sales tax, their non-Indian customers are supposed to pay, according to the state."

Tough times demand tough measures; but the situation here is pretty easy. Open the market up to competition, collect the license fees and the Indian taxes, and watch as the sky doesn't fall.