PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Liquor Control Commission reports that state liquor profits increased by 9 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
The agency released figures this week showing total revenue of $487.4 million from July 2011 through June 2012. After expenses, the agency had $194 million to distribute to state, county and city programs. That's $16 million more than last year.
"When people are happy, they're going to drink. When people are sad, they're going to drink," Adam Marquand said as he tended the cash register at a Portland liquor store.
OLCC spokeswoman Christie Scott told The Oregonian (http://is.gd/AkPbA4 ) that several factors contributed to the increase, including population growth and a gradually improving economy. During the worst of the recession, she said, drinkers went for cheaper booze.
"What we're seeing is, people are starting to buy more expensive products again," she said.
Scott said Washington's recent decision to privatize liquor sales, which has sent buyers into Oregon in search of cheaper prices, was only a small factor in the profit boost because it only affected June sales.
Nearly all the revenue comes from liquor sales, with a small amount from taxes on beer and wine and license fees.
Liquor sales, all of which go through state-controlled stores, aren't taxed, but the state applies a markup that is essentially double what it pays for any given bottle or case of distilled spirits. The profits go to various government agencies.
The state general fund, which pays for everything from schools to prison, is getting $110 million this year, and is the biggest beneficiary of Oregon's thirst for liquor.
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com