Early support for alcohol tax hike

Health care advocates say they have 146 General Assembly candidates signed on to a proposal that would raise the state's alcohol taxes by a dime a drink. Their effort was unsuccessful during the 2010 legislative session, when lawmakers swore off tax and fee increases as economically and politically unpalatable. But, the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative thinks 2011 will be their year. The next election will be four years off and the legislature will face another tough slog to find revenue to raise and costs to cut. "I think the alcohol tax is going to happen," said Vinny DeMarco, who heads the initiative and lobbied successfully for the cigarette tax increase in 2007. "The support in the legislature is reflective now of the support in the public." DeMarco's plan would increase taxes on beer, wine and hard liquor the equivalent of a dime per drink to raise more than $200 million. The money would go toward developmental disability services, addiction treatment and prevention, mental health care and health insurance for childless adults — parents are covered under existing law.