More budget woes

Gov. David Paterson’s budget for the 2009 fiscal year not only calls for selling wine in grocery stores, it is also proposes to cut all state  funding — $2.8 million worth — for the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, as reported by Rochester’s The Democrat and Chronicle. In addition, his budget calls for upping the state excise tax on wine from 18.9 cents to 51 cents.

This would shut the NYWGF down, as president Jim Trezise states in the article.

[Image via state.ny.us]This comes on the heels of the Dec. 10 release of the New York Wine Grape Task Force’s report, which lists among its conclusions:

The marketing of New York State as a socially responsible producer of high quality wines will be accomplished by a concerted public relations campaign that brings together state agencies, such as Empire State Development (I Love NY), New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and industry (including New York Wine & Grape Foundation, regional wine trails and promotional groups), coordinates existing efforts and institutes new measures.

Emphasis mine.

The task force was instituted by Patrick Hooker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in November 2007, while Eliot Spitzer was still in office. It was staffed by representatives of the New York state wine industry and headed by Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue, here on the North Fork.

According to the report, the task force met five times over the year and had several conference calls before issuing its 14-page statement.

The governor’s budget will have to be approved by the state Legislature with a deadline of April 1, a date lawmakers have rarely met. This year Paterson advanced the release of his budget by one month in order to expedite approval with the inevitable dealmaking that preceeds it.

NYWGF was created as a nonprofit by the legislature in 1985 to

fulfill the public purpose of providing for an effective and continuous program of research, promotion and education to strengthen the New York wine and grape industry’s position in the marketplace including the maintenance and expansion of domestic and foreign markets and uses for grapes grown and processed within the state.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “More budget woes

  1. Oxymoronic government thinking. If you raise the tax from 18.9 to 51, don’t you also want to encourage people to buy more wine and pay that tax? Instead, they raise the tax, aiming to reduce consumption. Stupid, I tell you, just stupid.

  2. I’ll have a post about this on my blog early next week. Just gathering some info from various winery owners and from Jim Trezise himself.

    In the short term, this is probably bad news for NY wineries (though maybe not as bad as their knee-jerk reaction) but long term, it could be a benefit. The NYWGF isn’t a perfect organization as currently constructed and could use an overhaul.

    My guess is that Jim lobbies Albany well enough (it’s his strength) to at least keep the foundation on life support. But this is an opportunity for the foundation to become self sufficient and for wineries to get out on their own and take some of marketing/promotion on themselves instead of relying on the NYWGF.

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