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July 24. 2013 10:28AM

Cheers! To the NH Liquor Commission

Revenue from New Hampshire's state-run liquor stores jumped by $38.9 million (6.9 percent) in fiscal year 2013, which ended in June. For perspective, that sum is more than the state spent last year on the Justice Department, the Department of Cultural Resources and the Secretary of State's office combined. The best part? The Liquor & Wine Outlet expansion that led to this new revenue is not finished.

The state's liquor stores brought in a record $603.5 million in the last fiscal year. Of that, $145.7 million in profit went to the general fund. That equals the state's take from the communications tax, real estate transfer tax and court fines and fees. That is how important liquor sales are to the New Hampshire state budget.

The state's reliance on liquor and wine sales is why former Liquor Commission Chairman Mark Bodi sought to transform the Liquor Commission's culture from bureaucratic to entrepreneurial. In just the last two years, the commission renovated or relocated outlets in Concord, Gilford, Hampstead, Lebanon, Lincoln, Manchester, Merrimack, Nashua, North Hampton, Peterborough, Plaistow, Portsmouth, and West Chesterfield. New marketing programs attracted more people, particularly out-of-staters, to the more customer-friendly stores. Revenue exploded.

When new, bigger stores open in Bedford, Manchester, Milford and on I-93, the state will rake in millions more.

The Liquor Commission's success (Chairman Joe Mollica is capably implementing Bodi's vision) is great for New Hampshire. It not only boosts the economy by drawing tourists, but it reduces the pressure to raise taxes. We will happily raise a glass to that.


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