OLYMPIA, Wash. -- With chants including, “We’re here. We’re beer. Get used to it,” about a hundred brewers and beer lovers rallied against a proposed state beer tax.
Budget proposals from Governor Jay Inslee and the House of Representatives each call for extending a tax scheduled to expire July first.
The Senate budget proposal does not change the beer tax.
“Most small breweries in Washington are struggling now,” said Will Kemper, owner of Chuckanut Brewing in Bellingham.
Kemper, who was part of the Thomas Kemper Brewery in the 1980’s, does not think the money raised by the tax will help the state in the long run.
“We’re not going to get much revenue from that change,” said Kemper, “So many people within the industry are jeopardized, their jobs are jeopardized.”
Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairs the House budget writing committee.
He does not expect the increase to put anyone out of work.
Hunter said expanding the tax to include small breweries is fair.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to only tax people who buy inexpensive beer,” said Hunter.
Hunter said lawmakers planned on having the tax expire this summer, but that changed when the Supreme Court demanded lawmakers to come up with more funding for education.
If taxes are not increased, Hunter told KING 5 News, social services would have to be cut.
“Should we make it so that it takes 90 days for people to respond when there is an allegation of child abuse instead of 90 minutes which is how long it should take?” asked Hunter.