Booze Projected To Be Billion Dollar Boon For Idaho

Feb 6, 2019

Profits from liquor sales in Idaho are reinvested in the state. Over the next decade, profits are expected to go up significantly. In FY 2019, the state is expected to get $82 million.
Credit Jeremy Brooks / Flickr

This week, the director of the Idaho State Liquor Division appeared before the legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Appropriations Committee. Along with putting in the agency’s yearly budget request, the director shared big revenue projections.

Liquor Division Director Jeff Anderson opened his remarks with a nod to Prohibition – and its repeal. After the historical turn, Anderson outlined the network of 170 liquor stores state-wide serving customers.

In fiscal year 2018, Idaho liquor sales brought in $215 million. Out of that, $78.5 million went back to the state – a record. Anderson says that’s only going to go up in the future.

“Our distribution forecast for the current year is $82 million, and for FY 2020, absent changes in law, $86 million,” Anderson told lawmakers.

That’s a pittance compared to a longer range projection he shared.

“For the next decade, we estimate nearly a billion dollars in net revenue distributed to our beneficiaries,” announced Anderson.

The largest of those beneficiaries is the state’s general fund. It got over $31 million in FY 2018 from liquor profits. Sizable portions of the proceeds also go to cities and counties around the state. They got $22.3 million and $14.8 million last year, respectively. Anderson told the committee per capita consumption of spirits in Idaho is well below national averages.

The Liquor Division is asking for an operating budget of $22.8 million for the upcoming fiscal year – slightly more than what Governor Brad Little is recommending.

The division’s final budget will be set by the finance committee in the next few weeks.

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