January 12, 2010 in City

Quitting liquor business could cost state millions

By The Spokesman-Review

Washington state could either gain an extra $277 million over four years if it gets out of the liquor business, or lose $47 million, a state auditor’s review says.

Right now, the state controls the wholesale and retail liquor sales with state employees operating the stores and distribution center, and is expected to make $2.36 billion between 2012 and 2016 under that system, Larisa Benton, director of performance audits, told the House Ways and Means Committee Monday.

If it turned the distribution center and its state-owned stores over to private businesses and increased the current 315 stores by about 60, it could make as much as $277 million more. It could make less with other options, such as privatizing stores and letting the market determine their number.

But it would likely lose $47 million by just converting existing outlets to contract outlets.

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