Those backing the plan inserted into the proposed 2011-2013 state budget include MillerCoors, liquor distributors, the state’s powerful tavern league, convenience stores and grocers. They claim the measure is meant to prevent the nation’s No. 1 brewer – St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch – from buying up liquor distributors in Wisconsin and stifling competition.
But the state’s small, specialty breweries says it’s a skunky plan aimed at making it harder to sell their products. Small beer brewers have done well in recent years under the current system at the expense of major brewers, they say.
Leading the list of the plan’s supporters were liquor distributors who contributed $350,287 in 2009 and 2010 to all candidates for statewide office and the legislature. Present legislators got $170,146 from the wholesale liquor industry.
Trade groups representing convenience stores and grocers contributed $319,865 to all statewide and legislative candidates, including $107,242 to current legislators, in 2009-2010.
The tavern industry contributed $201,850 to all legislative and statewide candidates, including $104,230 to current legislators, and MillerCoors doled out $65,167 to all candidates including $9,270 to current legislators.
The plan could be removed when the Assembly or Senate consider the proposed state budget later this month. Barring that, Republican Governor Scott Walker could veto it.
Walker did not include the liquor plan in the original 2011-2013 budget proposal he sent to the legislature, however, he did receive $224,000 in campaign contributions in 2009 and 2010 from the special interests that support it, including $125,024 from tavern, convenience store and grocer interests, $74,101 from liquor wholesalers and $24,875 from MillerCoors executives.