Kentucky booze tax meets opposition

Feb. 17, 2005 at 11:44 AM
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FRANKFORT, Ky., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Although a plan by Kentucky's governor to raise beer and liquor prices has yet to become law, business interests are raising the idea's political cost.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher wants the state's 6 percent sales tax applied to beer and liquor to raise an extra $40.5 million, the Lexington Herald-Leader said Thursday. Lawmakers are considering the proposal.

But Wednesday the head of Kentucky's venerable Maker's Mark distillery said any such move could scotch his company's planned $35 million expansion in Marion County, noting the company has scores of alternatives internationally for investment and expansion.

The warnings from Bill Samuels Jr. of Makers Mark got the attention of Marion County Judge-Executive David R. Hourigan, a Democrat.

He said he hadn't heard the new tax might endanger the Maker's Mark expansion but was concerned about anything that threatened the $35 million project.

Fletcher should also be concerned, Hourigan said.

"I think anything that can possibly affect economic development, especially in rural areas, has to be of huge concern to the governor," he said.

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