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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


Drinking Tax Won’t Solve Drinking “Problem”

The State College Borough Council is proposing a tax on “poured drinks” in our shared town.  Before I delve into the many flaws in this plan, I will quote The Daily Collegian:

“”We all want it,” Council President Elizabeth Goreham said. “This is our dream tax.”

In its capacity as a member of the University-Community Network of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, the Borough has spent about a year drafting an ordinance that would levy a ten percent tax on poured alcoholic drinks, Goreham said.

The next step, Goreham said, is to lobby local state legislators like Sen. Jake Corman, Rep. Scott Conklin or Rep. Kerry Benninghoff to introduce a bill about the tax.

University Park Undergraduate Association President Gavin Keirans said Monday that the measure will lead to higher prices, not a weakened alcohol culture.

“This is not a dream tax,” Keirans said. “By pointing a tax at something that’s clearly consumed mostly by students, it’s sending the wrong message.”

Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon said the proposal represents an “interesting” approach to dealing with State College’s alcohol culture.

“For our part of it, we have to turn to tuition and state appropriations to help pay for what happens on campus [as a result of alcohol abuse],” he said. “Why not turn to, as a revenue source, some of the folks who are selling the alcohol?”

These funds could pay for the police services and vandalism costs associated with alcohol abuse, Mahon said.

Penn State will not take an active lobbying role, Mahon said.

“That’s really a borough decision,” he said. “We wouldn’t interfere in any way at all.””

Let’s take it from the top: it is their “dream tax,” something that they have wanted for a long time. Usually when I dream of something, it is the highest, most unimaginably unachievable goal.  It is something that will change my life, and while this is no “dream tax,” it could certainly change my waking hours. I will now have to pay more for drinks poured at the bars, but will I change my drinking habits?

I honestly have no answer for this question, right now I have no money any way so going to the bars is out of the question, and so changing my drinking culture is seemingly impossible for them.  Next, lets get at the message this sends, the borough is tired of dealing with our drinking “problem” and so doing the only thing they know how, levy a tax.

It is time for the borough council to take a breath and think about what they are doing, in the past two weeks, they have proposed two new heavy taxes on their constituents.  A 14% increase last week, and now another 10% today.  Both taxes, are designed to hit a specific demographic.

In this hard time for the economy, most places are cutting back, from restaurants, to public schools, everyone is being forced to do more, or at the least the same, with less.  In today’s economy there is simply no other option.  While the Borough is choosing not only to do more, but to do more and take more.  I cannot seem to justify the borough’s bulging budget already, I cannot imagine what it will be after these new rounds of taxes.

It is time for the council to take a bite of humble pie, they must be grateful for everything that we do have, a wonderful geography, happy enthusiastic constituents, our health, and their positions on council.  I cannot imagine how much longer full time residents of State College will entertain these asinine attempts at solving a problem with a tax, and trying to disguise it as need.  I for one will not take this much longer, and I am seriously considering giving the next council member up for re-election in my district a run for their money, because I am tired of them running around on mine.

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