Washington’s tax rate on alcohol is the highest in the nation.

Washington’s tax rate on alcohol is the highest in the nation.

Regrets about alcohol privatization? We have a few

  • By Doug Parry
  • Thursday, February 18, 2016 1:45pm
  • Local News

You know how it goes. You let loose and have a few too many drinks. You tell yourself you can handle it, and if not? Well, that’s a problem for the next morning.

Washington voters had one giddy night like that in November 2011. We were getting restless in our relationship with state-run liquor stores when Costco and other retailers swooped in with their sweet talk. They wooed us with promises of cheaper prices and greater convenience, and we were seduced. Initiative 1183 won 58 percent of the vote.

Then the next morning came, and a lot of us got that queasy feeling that we’d fallen for an initiative that wasn’t that good-looking after all.

It quickly became clear that alcohol wouldn’t be any cheaper under the initiative, and four years later, we’re still paying the price – the highest price for booze in America, that is.

You might have thought the free market would bring down costs, but you know what’s immune to that? Taxes. The independent Tax Foundation says Washington’s rate of $35.22 a gallon is $12.50 higher than second-ranked Oregon. It’s triple the tax rate of the noted alcohol-friendly state of Utah and 10 times higher than people pay in California.

As for all that sweet talk from retailers? Well, it was half true. We now have the convenience of buying overpriced booze at any grocery store.

In our latest poll at HeraldNet.com, we asked whether you’d do it all again. A slim majority, 51 percent, said they wouldn’t.

But what’s done is done. There’s no running back to those old state liquor stores. And our cash-strapped state isn’t going to cut the liquor tax to anything reasonable.

No, The Man is going to keep taking advantage of us. You’d think he could at least buy us a drink first.

— Doug Parry, @parryracer

Next up, we’d like your opinion on the smoking age in the state.

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