The state of Kentucky is a wonderful place. I lived there for a year in the 1980s, and I loved it, even through the heat. The people are friendly and gracious, the men generous and the women handsome, the fishing is good, the scenery is breathtaking above and below ground. The whiskey and the people who make it made my life a happier time.
But the Kentucky legislature sure can be log-headed. They have raised the tax on booze again, and Kentucky already had the third highest booze taxes in the nation. I could go on, but Eric Gregory, the President of the Kentucky Distillers Association, says it all pretty well here. Some excerpts:
Our state leaders should evaluate the entire revenue base and propose solutions that will stabilize our economy for years to come, not derail an industry that's on a roll. Raising alcohol taxes is a short-term fix with long-term consequences -- lost jobs, higher prices for consumers and yet another competitive disadvantage for one of Kentucky's signature industries.
Is there any other industry with a product that's taxed at least five times before it reaches the consumer? Has the legislature considered the long-term damage to small businesses and our hospitality industry in this grab for new revenue? And finally, is this any way to treat a thriving signature industry that's been so good to Kentucky? The answer is an absolute "no."
In Kentucky, the bourbon industry provides more than 3,200 jobs, pays more than $115 million in state and local taxes, and has planned capital investment of more than $100 million that will benefit the commonwealth for decades.
The bourbon industry understands that the state and country are facing a fiscal crisis. Many other industries are asking for bailouts and government help. But bourbon is not. We're just asking legislators to do no harm during these difficult times.
Be reasonable: leave bourbon alone. Hasn't it done enough?