This editorial appeared in The (Tacoma) News Tribune.
Gov. Chris Gregoire is hoping a bender or two will help bail the state out of its budget bind.
Her proposed spending plan assumes that state liquor sales – one of the few sectors of the economy doing well, for some reason – will help cover the $6 billion budget shortfall. Gregoire is asking the Liquor Control Board to boost revenue by $21 million over the next two years.
The focus is on opening new liquor stores – "in order to meet the ongoing demands of an increasing population of individuals who are 21 years of age or older" – and expanding hours. But also in the mix are gimmicks such as offering gift cards and letting liquor stores sell stuff like corkscrews and ice.
It doesn't get much more desperate than trying to drown the state's fiscal crisis in booze. But these are desperate times.
Take Gregoire's proposal as an indication of just how big the state's financial hole is, since the governor isn't generally keen on expanding liquor sales. She only begrudgingly signed a repeal of the state's 71-year-old ban on Sunday liquor sales, deriding the legislation as a concession to drinkers who can't plan ahead and buy their fifths on Saturday.
Regardless, her budget proposal would take Washington further down the road of managing its monopoly on hard liquor as a profit center rather than a way to deter abuse.
If the original rationale for state control is gone, why not privatize the enterprise?
To read the complete editorial, visit The (Tacoma) News Tribune.