A late-filed bill introduced Monday night in the Maryland Senate would raise the state sales tax on alcohol from 6 percent to 9 percent over the coming three years, eventually yielding more than $80 million a year in revenue.
The bill, which has the backing of Senate leaders, was put forward as an alternative to raising excise taxes on alcohol, a move that has been a major priority of health-care advocates this session.
Though the bill does not earmark proceeds for any particular purpose, Senate aides said the revenue would likely help increase school funding and programs for people with disabilities.
Under the bill, sponsored by Sens. Verna Jones Rodwell (D-Baltimore) and Richard J. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), the sales tax on alcohol would increase to 7 percent in July 1. It would go up to 8 percent in July 2012 and 9 percent in July 2013.
The proposed tax increase is expected to become an issue in the remaining three weeks of the 90-day session as lawmakers finalize work on the state budget.