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Alcohol and cigarettes could cost more statewide; universities to cut 500 jobs if state budget passes

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Part of Governor Perdue’s budget plan includes upping taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.

The proposed “sin tax” would generate more than 400 million dollars for the weak state budget.

Booze and cigarettes, both things people continue to buy despite the recession, could cost more come September 1st, if Governor Bev Perdue gets her way.

“I think we have pretty good alcohol prices, but if they go up, it’s definitely not going to be great, because people aren’t going to drink as much,” said Jeremiah Williams, a bartender at Fat Tony’s.

With the economy already forcing people to pinch pennies, Williams said this is not the right time to raise a tax like this. “I’ve seen a decrease in people going out and spending what they usually would, cause their disposable income is so small.”

Perdue is proposing a five percent tax surcharge on all alcohol, which includes drinks bought at a bar or restaurant and bottles and cans purchased at a liquor store.

Perdue also wants to raise the tobacco tax from 35 cents per pack to $1.35. For smoker Ben Adams, this may mean changing his habit. “I gotta cut down even more.”

Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is concerned these higher taxes will hurt cities that rely on tourism, like Wilmington.

Visitors Bureau Director Kim Hufham isn’t worried, noting the Cape Fear region has much more to offer. “People don’t come here just to drink. People might get in a restaurant and buy one less drink, who knows? But it really won’t affect people coming to area, because it’s going to be statewide.”

The proposed sin taxes would produce nearly $400 million in revenue for the 2009-2010 state budget. The proposed budget plan still needs to go before the state legislature.

The head of the University of North Carolina system says it will have to cut as many as 500 jobs if governor Perdue’s budget becomes law.

Erskine Bowles told the senate budget-writing committee Tuesday that the proposed $192 million in system cuts would harm the quality of education on the 16 campuses. Instead, he urged lawmakers to consider giving campuses the ability to furlough workers to save money.

The senate will propose and pass its own budget plan before sending it to the house, which will create its own version.

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Story summary

videoPart of Governor Perdue’s budget plan includes upping taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. The proposed “sin tax” would generate more than 400 million dollars for the weak state budget.

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Associated poll

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