A group that backs bringing liquor sales to Kansas grocery and convenience stores is offering lawmakers a plan to raise $40 million at a time when the state needs to close a $290 million budget shortfall.
Uncork Kansas says the stores would be willing to pay as much as $200,000 each for an initial state license to sell beer, wine and spirits. For smaller stores, the initial license would be $10,000.
“Our customers are ready for this change, and we’re pleased to bring this free market solution to the governor and Legislature knowing it will infuse the Kansas budget with much needed cash,” said Jessica Lucas, spokesperson for Uncork Kansas, said in a statement.
Under current law, only liquor stores in Kansas are allowed to sell full-strength beer, wine and spirits.
Grocery and convenience stores are limited to selling 3.2 percent beer.
Tuck Duncan, a lobbyist for the Kansas Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association, an organization that opposes wine and liquor in grocery stores, called the proposal “a blatant bribe” and that enacting it would be detrimental to small retailers.
The Uncork group is calling the offer the “Uncork Kansas Free Market Budget Bailout.” After the initial license buy-in, annual licensing fees would generate about $6.5 million a year to the state, Lucas said.
Bryan Lowry of The Wichita Eagle contributed.