GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Governor Pete Ricketts joined with many Nebraska breweries to show his opposition to proposed bills in the state senate which would raise taxes on beer, wine, and spirits produced and sold in Nebraska. The excise tax would increase beer taxes over 300%, per gallon that means from currently 31 cents to $1.38; wine would increase 95 cents to $3.51; spirits from $3.75 to $12.28.
The bill was heard by the Education Committee and Revenue Committee over the past week. The primary goal of the bill is to reduce the burden on property tax payers, especially rural property owners, in supporting grade schools (K-12).
There is great push-back from small business owners who deal in alcoholic liquor production and sales. Such a hike in their taxes would create a large burden for them which would greatly reduce profits, if not upend their whole budget. As they stand, Nebraska taxes on alcoholic liquors is higher than all surrounding states.
At Kinkaider Brewing Company in Grand Island, a protest was held today simultaneously to two others in Lincoln and Omaha. Brewing companies from across Central and Western Nebraska were present, as well as many landowners.
Trent Loos, a 6th-generation farmer from Hazard, Nebraska, spoke with Local4 News, in support of Governor Ricketts looking out for small businesses. He says that the backbone of Nebraska's economy lies not only in agriculture, but also in small business. He spoke at Kinkaider Friday evening, comparing this showing of opposition to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. He says there should be lower taxes across the board, and more responsible spending habits in place. "We do have a problem. We charge too much money in terms of taxes, but what we need is less spending, not to charge the people that are trying to make this state a better place to live and do business."
The bills are still being deliberated, and if passed, would not take effect until the 2020-2021 fiscal year.