NY raising the price of raising a glass

New York State is so strapped for cash, Gov. David Patterson is dusting off a lot of old ideas to raise money. Among his proposals for the new year, which still need to be debated and voted on by the state legislature, are numerous ones that will affect the beverage consuming habits of state residents.

Chief among them is his proposal to allow sales of wine in grocery stores, which would put New York on the same page as 35 other states that already allow it. Until now, strong lobbying by liquor store owners and their allies in state government has kept the lucrative slice of the market all to themselves. The usual posturing and debating now will ensue as the matter is debated.

Other beverage-related plans in Patterson's 2009-10 budget proposal:

• An increase in the excise tax on wine and beer from 18.9 cents a gallon for wine and 24 cents a gallon for beer to 51 cents a gallon for both.

• Increasing the tax on flavored malt liquors.

• Raising the sales tax on fruit drinks and non-diet sodas with less than 70% fruit juice by 18%.

Paterson delivered a balanced Executive Budget, more than one month prior to the State constitutional deadline, which would eliminate the largest budget deficit in state history -- a $1.7 billion current-year shortfall and a $13.7 billion 2009-10 deficit.

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