Wine-at-Grocery Foes Lobby N.Y. Legislators

Members of the New York State Liquor Store Association and others opposed to New York Gov. David Patterson’s wine-at-grocery proposal urged the State Legislature to reject the plan here Wednesday, claiming it would force the closure of 1,000 small businesses and cost 4,500 jobs.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Members of the New York State Liquor Store Association and others opposed to New York Gov. David Patterson’s wine-at-grocery proposal urged the State Legislature to reject the plan here Wednesday, claiming it would force the closure of 1,000 small businesses and cost 4,500 jobs.

“They are the people who are the big losers if this goes into effect, while the big winners will be corporate grocery stores from out of state,” said Michael McKeon, spokesman for the Last Store on Main Street Coalition, a group of small business advocates, local wine store owners and wholesalers. “Just so Whole Foods can send more money to Texas and Wal-Mart can send more money to Arkansas.”

The Food Industry Alliance of New York State is moving ahead in support of the measure, despite an amendment to the proposal that would mean higher franchise fees for certain supermarkets interested in selling wine.

Earlier this month Patterson recommended that his previous proposal, which would bring an estimated $92 million to the state in the form of franchise fees, be changed to increase the fee for retailers with gross sales of over $1 million. He estimates the new fee structure will generate a total of $300 million in franchise fees over the next two years.

Since the money would be dedicated to financing rising Medicaid costs and preventing deeper cuts to health care programs, the measure has gained support from healthcare workers, Jim Rogers, president and chief executive officer of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, told SN.

“Some unions have come out in support of this,” he said.

Others, who oppose the proposal, claim that the revenue estimates were chosen arbitrarily, without considering that inflated fees could restrict the supermarket buy-in required to reach $300 million.

“I don’t know why [Patterson] didn’t just put $1 billion, why stop at $300 million?” McKeon said. “We’ve seen no evidence to say that that’s a viable number. Somebody just erased one number and penciled in another.”

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