Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Montgomery Councilmember Trachtenberg To Speak at March 3 Rally in Annapolis in Support of Increasing Maryland Alcohol Tax

Proposed 10 cent Per Drink Increase Would Support Addiction Treatment Programs and Persons with Mental Illnesses

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 2, 2010—Montgomery County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large) on Wednesday, March 3, will join a broad coalition of human services, health care and business groups in Annapolis to urge an increase in the tax the state imposes on alcohol. Revenue from the proposed 10-cent per drink increase would be dedicated to funding services for people with alcohol and substance addictions, developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, and health care for the uninsured.

The rally urging support of the increase will be held at noon, at Lawyers Mall, in front of the State House. Councilmember Trachtenberg, who chairs the Council’s Management and Fiscal Policy (MFP) Committee, and is a member of its Health and Human Services Committee, will speak at the event. Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett will be one of several expected guests.

Maryland has not increased its tax on wine and beer since 1972 or its tax on liquor and spirits since 1955. Maryland taxes on these beverages are the fourth lowest among the 50 states.

According to an Opinion Works poll, released this week by the Maryland Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 72 percent of responding Marylanders said they would support the increase. Budget reductions taken by the state’s Board of Public Works since the start of the 2010 fiscal year have reduced funding for addiction treatment and prevention by $4.7 million across the state. Hundreds of treatment slots have been lost and dozens of people have been laid off.

“As chair of the County Council’s MFP Committee that oversees many of the County’s budget issues, no one is more familiar with the budget dilemma faced by the state and local governments than I am,” said Councilmember Trachtenberg. “That is why this proposal makes so much sense. The impact on a consumer of an additional 10 cents per drink is negligible. However, collectively, the revenue raised will have a major impact on the people who need the services that will be supported by this measure. The state has not changed this tax in decades. Now is the right time to do it.”

The revenue raised will support the unmet needs of people with developmental disabilities and mental health problems, and support programs dedicated to the prevention and treatment of substance abuse. It will additionally fund health care access for childless adults.

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