On Wednesday, a Senate committee amended a tax package passed by the House earlier this week to hike alcohol taxes 5¢ per drink for beer, wine, and spirits, greater than the 1¢ to 2¢ increase included in the original proposal. The hike, larger than opponents had wanted but smaller than supporters had hoped for, would be the first in 30 years.
Research has shown that making alcohol costlier is a way to reduce excess drinking, and supporters argued that a significant tax increase is necessary to combat the state’s alcohol crisis. New Mexicans die of alcohol-related causes at nearly three times the national rate and alcohol is involved in more than twice the deaths statewide as are fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamines combined. New Mexico’s alcohol taxes do not adjust with inflation and have lost much of their real value since lawmakers last raised them. The 5¢ increase, approved by the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation committee, would bring taxes on wine and spirits back to the real value they had in 2000.