One of the dozens of ideas proposed by Governor Ned Lamont to close the state’s proposed two-year deficit is to expand the state’s bottle deposit program to bottles for wine, liquor, and smaller bottles known as nips.
The proposal is projected to net the state about $10 million over the biennium, a small fraction of the overall budget, but considered necessary to close an estimated $3 billion shortfall.
“Whatever we have to do, we are going to do in this store,” said Jay Pole, the founder and owner of Willowbrook Spirit Shoppe in Cromwell. “It will be a burden.”
Polke says expanding the program to wine and liquor bottles will mean his store will have to utilize more space in order to collect deposits. In his case, he would plan on using his basement. He says he’s lucky, and added there are more steps than the governor may think.
“It’s going to put a burden on liquor store owners that don’t have the space. They’re going to have to acquire more space. Distributors are going to have to acquire more space,” Polke said, who’s been in the liquor business for more than 40 years. “There are trucks on the road that are going to have to be purchased, more drivers, more carbon footprint for something that’s really not necessary the way I see it.”
Lamont is proposing adding a $.25 deposit on every liquor and wine bottle and a 5-cent deposit on every nip.
However, consumers looking to get their refunds may find it difficult, because supermarkets only have machines that accept bottles of plastic, glass, and aluminum cans.
That’s a concern of Rep. Jason Rojas, (D – East Hartford), who chairs the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, the panel that would consider the proposal.
“It begs the question, do we even have machines that can even take bottles like that and redeem them?” Rojas asked. “So those are all new issues that we’d have to deal with and that there are systems in place to actually make it work so that we can realize that revenue if we’re going to go that direction.”