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Lawmakers OK with rejection of Maine liquor offer

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm •  Published: January 31, 2013

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Top legislators signaled Thursday they support Gov. Paul LePage's rejection of an offer from Maine's wholesale liquor distributor to guarantee the state $320 million over 10 years if the state extends its contract without opening the bidding to other offers.

One of the lawmakers, Democratic Sen. Emily Ann Cain of Orono, said she was glad Maine Beverage Co. made the offer to the state, saying it provides the Legislature with a lot of valuable information about the potential of the state's liquor business.

Maine Beverage President and CEO Dean Williams told the state he could guarantee annual state liquor revenues of $32 million, with the potential for an additional $4 to $6 million annually. Maine Beverage has held the wholesale liquor contract for the past decade but the deal is set to expire next year.

In declining the offer Wednesday, LePage said he believes there's more value for the state in the wholesale liquor operation than Maine Beverage's proposal offered but invited the company to participate in a competitive bidding process.

Cain, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said the whole liquor contract matter faces a long and thorough review.

With the state looking for immediate revenues in 2004, Maine Beverage was awarded a 10-year contract for warehousing and distribution. In exchange, the state received $125 million up front, plus profit sharing.

Some Republican lawmakers say the state could have gotten a better deal.

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