HARTFORD -- The lingering battle over Sunday sales of alcohol became a daylong skirmish Tuesday as both sides argued about projected tax revenue in the depths of Connecticut's fiscal crisis.

During a public hearing before a crucial legislative committee, the Washington-based Distilled Spirits Council claimed that up to $8 million in annual tax revenue would result from extending liquor sales to Sunday.

And state grocers said their customers want to be able to buy beer on Sundays, one of the busiest shopping days of the week.

Their arguments fueled the position of some lawmakers, including General Assembly members from border towns, who believe state businesses are losing out to Massachusetts and New York towns where consumers can buy liquor in retail outlets on Sundays.

Carroll Hughes, lobbyist for the 1,100-member Connecticut Package Stores Association, which opposes the measure, said that the reality of Sunday sales would be a minuscule $140,000 in extra excise and sales tax revenue for the state.

"We would burn that up in additional public safety costs alone," Hughes said.

He said that nonpartisan legislative researchers who investigated the issue miscalculated in predicting that as much as $8 million in additional annual excise and sales tax would be generated for the state.

Rep. Joseph Taborsak, D-Danbury, co-chairman of the committee, said the panel will have to fully explore the issue to find the true fiscal impact.

"It seems pretty clear that it's something that's very hard to measure, based on the information we have," Taborsak said.

If the state adopts Sunday sales, Hughes said, 20 percent of package store beer sales will migrate to supermarkets.

And state police chiefs said they are concerned about more crime and underaged drinking if the bill passes.

For people like 44-year-old Mitch Ancona, of Redding, proprietor of the third-generation Ancona's Wines & Liquors in Ridgefield and Wilton, Sunday sales would mean the same amount of business, spread out over seven days instead of six, and would further stress his staff.

"What it really comes down to is, I've spent a fair amount of time cultivating a wonderful staff," he said. "These people aren't minimum wage people. These are people with family. These are people who make a fair wage and I'm going to have to try and figure out a way to fairly schedule these people on a Sunday, when they're used to spending that day with their families."

About 300 people, mostly package store owners opposed to the bill -- wearing lapel stickers that said "No Sunday Sales" and "Save My Job" -- packed a legislative meeting room Tuesday in a major showdown before the General Law Committee, whose former chairman, a staunch opponent of Sunday sales, lost his re-election bid last November.

Connecticut is the last Northeastern state that prohibits Sunday alcohol sales in retail establishments and is one of only three states in the country that has the ban.

Even though his stores are a short drive from Vista, N.Y., Ancona said he's not losing business there. "My costs of operating that seventh day would still have to be paid for with the theoretical six days worth of sales," he said, adding that about 70 percent of his business is wine sales.

While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would sign a bill authorizing Sunday retail sales, the bill faces votes in that committee as well as further scrutiny in as many as five other committees.