Owner of Moline’s newest brewery concerned about proposed tax hike

MOLINE, Illinois - As Governor J.B. Pritzker looks for ways to pay for a complicated infrastructure plan that would cost more than $40 Billion, he is suggesting some tax increases on products including beer.

Some craft brewers in the Quad Cities are concerned about the impact the tax increases would have on their businesses if approved.

The grand opening of Galena Brewing Company in Moline was on Wednesday, May 22.

"We have always been an Illinois brewery and we love the fact that we are staying in the state," said owner Warren Bell.

There are about a dozen breweries in the Quad Cities now.

"People have come in over and over again and said 'we love your beer in Galena and we are so glad that you're here now," said Bell.

The Illinois governor is suggesting taxes be raised from about 23.1 cents per gallon of beer to 27.7 cents per gallon, about a 21% increase.

"Many may not realize it, but taxes are the most expensive ingredient in beer. Not hops, or barley, or water. Taxes," said Danielle D'Alessandro, Executive Director of Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. She spoke during a press conference on May 24.

Warren Bell said the move would increase the cost of his product.

"Of course, it increases our cost. Either we swallow that or we pass the cost onto the customer."

Bell said the move would also make his new small brew pub less competitive with breweries across the river in Iowa.

Illinois already taxes the most per gallon in the region.

In Iowa, beer is taxed at 19 cents per gallon and in Wisconsin, its taxed at just 6 cents per gallon.

"It's very frustrating. Because, if we knew the reasons for this, if someone would tell us straight up what the reasons for all these tax increases are, and why it's costing more to live in Illinois than across the river then maybe we could stomach it," said Bell. "It seems that it's just bad government in the past that we have to pay for now. We get nothing for it."

A time of frustration and concern as breweries on both sides of the Mississippi River try to make their mark in the Quad Cities.

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