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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Sunday Spin 3: Sin taxes roll in

Voters have a way of complicating the state’s revenue forecast by changing the laws on things that provide revenue. After they passed a law abolishing the state’s monopoly on wholesale and retail liquor sales, the state coffers saw a big bump in booze taxes. In theory that was at least partly because distilled spirits were on the shelves of every supermarket, discount house and big-box retailer, making it more handy to grab a bottle without a special trip to a state store.

That novelty may be wearing off. . . 

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. . . State Economist Steve Lerch said last week the big bump in liquor tax collections is leveling off and the state “is coming back more toward pre-privatization trends.”

A year later voters legalized recreational marijuana, but the system took so long to set up that the state only has one full quarter of tax collections. Now that those are in, the state might get about $11 million in taxes and fees for the general fund by the end of next June, and $32 million for other funds and accounts. That could go up to $68 million for the general fund and $168 million for other funds in the 2015-17 biennium.

That’s not exactly chump change, but it isn’t enough to solve budget problems for public schools.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.