The budget news from Washington State Gov. Chris Gregoire is dismal: The state faces a $2 billion shortfall for its next fiscal year.
The bad economy drives many policy decisions, but in this election cycle, at least one – eliminating Washington's liquor store monopoly – should be simple: Pass Measure 1183.
State monopolies in liquor sales, such as Washington's and Oregon's, have been fought over for generations. In the past, many efforts to break the government's hold on the industry have been beaten back with arguments such as potential loss of revenue to the states and feared increases in crime and alcoholism.
Years in the making, Measure 1183 – which would not affect current laws regulating beer -- is being widely hailed as a breakthrough that would bring in more money for government and more money for crime prevention.
Oregon's eyes are glued on the results of this election because if Measure 1183 passes, many expect it to land on Oregon ballots next.
Attorney General Rob McKenna's analysis of the measure shows it will actually increase the amount of money the state rakes in from alcohol sales. Two separate studies on the measure bear this out, including one by the Washington Research Council estimating almost half a billion dollars rolling in within the first six years – the kind of money Washington desperately needs.
If passed, the measure would: close state liquor stores and sell their assets; license private parties to sell and distribute spirits; set license fees based on sales; regulate licensees; and liberalize regulation of wine distribution to give small restaurants and bars a break on how they serve customers.
The proposed law mostly concerns beverages defined as "spirits," which are defined as hard liquor as well as wines containing more than 24 percent alcohol by volume.
The big fight here appears to be between big retailer Costco and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, Inc., which would be required to pay licensing fees to the state if Measure 1183 passes.
Yet a gathering storm of supporters from across the state of Washington is jumping to support Measure 1183; many in the public sector argue it will bring in badly-needed funds for essential state and local services.
Endorsements are coming from small businesses, law enforcement and emergency agencies, civic leaders from cities both large and small – in fact when the initiative petitions were turned in early this year, they held more than 120,000 more signatures than required.
At times like these it's up to state leaders to either increase revenue or cut spending. Vote yes on Measure 1183 to raise state revenue and eliminate Washington's liquor monopoly.
On the Oregon ballot
• We endorse Brad Avakian for US Representative, District 1
On the Washington ballot, we vote:
• Yes on Measure 1183 to raise state revenue and eliminate Washington's liquor monopoly.