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Michigan restaurants spared costlier liquor licenses

As part of his budget proposal, Gov. Rick Snyder asked the Legislature for new, increased or extended fees that would raise around $13.9 million in new revenue.

A 50 percent increase in liquor license fees would generate nearly $6.2 million in increased revenue. Most of those fees have not changed since 1976.

The liquor and hospitality industries immediately fought the proposal, saying it would unfairly balance the budget on the backs of small businesses.

The appropriations committee chairs leading the budget process in the House and Senate are agreeing with the industries. They are not moving forward with increases for liquor license fees.

Instead, a deal is in the works that would take money from the Liquor Purchase Revolving Fund to support technology upgrades for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission that the fees would have funded.

The Liquor Purchase Revolving Fund receives money from taxes on certain liquor sales in the state, among other money.

Money in that fund has increased as the prices and total sales of liquor increase.

Scott Ellis, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, said it wouldn't be fair to raise fees on the liquor industry when it already funds various parts of the state budget with taxes on liquor sales. Also, he said, money in the Liquor Purchase Revolving Fund could be used for the proposed technology upgrades.

"We can't punish our industry if we are already self-providing. We are doing our part," he said.

Under Snyder's proposal, the fee increases would raise $2.6 million to support technology upgrades for the Liquor Control Commission, including new reporting features and the elimination of paper applications, said Jason Moon, spokesman for the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

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