When Governor Martin O'Malley signs Senate Bill 994, Maryland's first alcohol-specific tax increase since 1972, it will be a tremendous public health victory for Maryland. According to Professors David Jernigan and Hugh Waters of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, this new increase in the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages from 6 percent to 9 percent will lead to a nearly 2 percent decrease in alcohol consumption and prevent 14 deaths, 125 cases of aggravated assault, 26 incidents of severe violence against children, and close to 6,000 cases of alcohol abuse or dependence every year.
In addition, the measure will raise over $85 million per year. We are very pleased that the legislation specifically commits $15 million to help reduce the waiting list for people with developmental disabilities who desperately need community services. The governor also used a supplemental budget to put millions of dollars into critical mental health needs.