Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: liquor


If there’s loose cash in that liquor monopoly, take it

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Nestled in the state House of Representatives’ recently released budget is an intriguing idea: leasing out the state’s liquor wholesaling monopoly for a cool $300 million up front – plus yearly payments thereafter.

Maybe the Legislature shouldn’t be banking on that money, but it certainly ought to be looking at the proposal behind it. If there’s a downside to the leasing scheme, we’re not seeing it.

State government for many decades has exercised complete control over the wholesaling and retail sale of high-octane beverages – buying it from distilleries and other suppliers, warehousing it, distributing it to state-owned liquor stores and pocketing the cash when it is sold.

The sale of booze is not a core function of government; with proper controls, it belongs in the private sector.
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Voters’ message: No taxes, no bail, no privatization

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington voters are an independent lot. There’s no way to put a party label on the way they voted on Tuesday’s ballot measures.

As they’ve demonstrated time and time again, they don’t like taxes and will repeal them, shrink them or prevent them almost every chance they get.

By approving Initiative 1053 almost two-to-one (as of Thursday), Washingtonians emphatically forbade the Legislature from enacting any new tax without either a two-thirds supermajority in both the House and Senate, or a vote of the people. The clear message: Don’t even think about squeezing more money out of us in the pit of this economic hell.

Initiative 1098 – the proposed income tax on high earners – got crushed by almost the same margin. Voters were rightly suspicious that the Legislature might spread that tax to lower income brackets in the next hard economy.

The fate of I-1098 will probably spook lawmakers away from the concept of a state income tax for another generation. If only voters had been offered a far better version: a constitutionally capped income tax that would reduce – not add to – the state’s excessive sales tax.

While they were at it, Washingtonians repealed the bottled water-and-soda tax the Legislature used to wire a balanced budget together in April. That means the state’s multi-billion-dollar fiscal crisis just got $272 million deeper.

Voters to Legislature: Deal with it.
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Get state out of liquor sales: Yes on I-1100, no on I-1105

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.
Time may be up on this state’s Prohibition-era liquor monopoly, but not just any privatization scheme will do.

Of the two liquor initiatives on November’s ballot, only one ends all state intervention in the liquor market plus has the added advantage of heading off an unholy fight over new liquor taxes.

Initiative 1100 is that measure. Voters who want to get the state out of the business of booze should approve it while voting no on its competing measure, Initiative 1105.

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