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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Liquor chief on privatization: ‘Why would the state give up $45 million?’

Idaho made a record $45 million in liquor profits this year, state Liquor Division Director Dyke Nally reported to lawmakers this morning. "It's the people's business - the people of the state of Idaho own this business, and the moneys go back to the people from the profits," he said. When JFAC Vice-Chair Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, asked why Washington state is looking into privatizing its liquor system as a money-making move, Nally said he doesn't think it'll happen. "Every seven years in one of the 18 control states, somebody brings up privatization," he said. "In Washington, they're just rattling cages and talking about it. No state has ever privatized, by the way, since 1933." The reason: "When they get to the end, they say, 'This is a pretty good business for the state - why give this up?'"

Nally said Alberta, Canada privatized its liquor sales. "The minute they privatized, they had three times as many stores, the product costs more, not less, because there's another markup. ... The product becomes much more available, people aren't trained as well like the state stores are, the hours are longer because you're marketing the product. ... Our mission is to promote temperance first and foremost, and then sell the product. ... We're not open in the middle of the night. ... And I would doubt if Washington will get very far - no one ever has, once they really debate this."

He added, "Why would the state give up $45 million? A quick fix would be to sell it and get a big windfall, and then what do you do?" Under the control system, he said, that money comes in to the state every year.

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.