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Corbett to Propose Privatizing Pa. Liquor Stores

Gov. Tom Corbett will announce plans to privatize Pennsylvania's state store system

The big issue of whether to privatize Pennsylvania's liquor stores will take center stage today as Gov. Tom Corbett announces plans to sell them off.

Corbett will call for liquor store licenses to be auctioned off, according to multiple sources. Sales of beer and wine could be opened up to various retailers including drug stores and big-box department stores.

Related story: Pa.'s Prohibition Era May Finally End

The Republican governor is expected to announce his plan at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Pittsburgh. This move comes on the heels of plans to privatize the PA Lottery -- another controversial move.

Pennsylvania has about 620 state stores.

Union groups have argued that more than 4,500 jobs will be lost if the state system is privatized, but Republicans have countered by saying that the 1,600 private sector stores will create additional opportunities for jobs — including union jobs.

Liquor store unions gave $140,000 in campaign donations to state-level candidates last year, according to a Pa. Independent report.

Corbett has supported privatization since he took office in 2011.

Polls have consistently shown a majority of Pennsylvanians are in favor of privatizing the liquor system, but the state monopoly set up in the wake of Prohibition has remained stubborn despite numerous attempts to end it, including efforts by the past two Republican administrations in Harrisburg during the 1980s and 1990s, accoring to a Pa. Independent report.

Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, was one of several people invited to the governor’s office recently to weigh in on the liquor plan.  He said Pennsylvania needs rethink how alcohol is sold.

The final plan should include more retail locations, including grocery stores and convenience stores, he said.

“Our view is that simply changing the person behind the counter isn’t good enough,” Barr told the Pa. Independent.

Jeff Lugar February 01, 2013 at 01:46 PM
He's not "giving it to a foreign company"; there was a bidding process and only one final bid (out of a handful that started the process). If a Pennsylvania or U.S. company wanted it, they could have gone after it.
Jeff Lugar February 01, 2013 at 01:49 PM
The same scenario I always use. And if you substitute big bag of potato chips, small bag of potato chips, and bag of pretzels as the things you have to go to three places to get, the lunacy of it all becomes even more clear.
ro February 01, 2013 at 06:06 PM
PA Wine & Spirits stores generated approximately $2.1 billion in revenue in 2011-12. factoid!!!!!!!!
Les February 01, 2013 at 06:09 PM
I hope it can happen this time. There is a poor selection of wine in this area and the prices are high. I moved back to PA after living in Virginia for 40 years and I miss the convince of purchasing beer and wine at the grocery or specialty stores like Total Wine.
Amend February 02, 2013 at 01:39 AM
@brian- so, if the end result of privatization is that taxes have to be increased to make up for lost revenue, you'd be ok with that? Plenty of municipalities run enterprises that would be considered businesses by most, such as sewer & water authorities. Again, I'm not against privatizing alcohol sales. I'm just wondering about the numbers. If the state ends up losing money in the long run, what's the point of privatization? This plan would make sense if we had a budget surplus, but that isn't the case. One time cash infusions may plug a hole now, but what does that look like long term?
Martin Heldring February 02, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Hurrah and thank you Governor Corbett for taking on this silly law! In reading all of these comments, I cannot find a single logical reason why the state should be in this business. But to continue laws that suppress competition simultaneously creates an environment akin to something out of the Soviet Union. But if people are so convinced that the state stores provide good product and service at competitive prices, then keep them But at least, let’s see how they do in a competitive environment. My guess is not so well. As to the potential loss of revenue, a closer examination shows the state stores are basically break even when the pension and health care costs are included and that trend line is not favorable to taxpayers. One must also consider the lost revenue of sales in other states. For thousands of people who are located near adjoining states, they can easily do their shopping there. And the bulk of the revenue form the state stores comes from the tax revenue and that would remain if the store were privatized. No, it’s time to put an end to this anachronism and I commend the Governor for trying.
Jim February 02, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Keep PA Liquor Stores! I like my booze and wine fresh. I used to sell to Ma and Pa stores in New Jersey where you can buy liquor at convienient stores. There is no rotation of stock, dusty bottles, hot/humid stores (not good for wine), low product turn over, absence of selection, and the price was no cheaper than PA. If I have a technical question about a $100 bottle of wine do you think a 18 or 21 yr old kid is going to be able to answer me. Plus don't you think they will sell to thier under aged friends. We don't need 24 hour access to liquor. There is the problem of higher crime, more DUI's costing tax payers more in law inforcement, insurance premiums, hospital care. I don't need to be going to Walmart at 3AM to "buy me a gun and a six pack", but there are people who will and I don't think we need those people on the street. The retail cost of liquor will go up because private companies will not be subsitized. Our taxes will not go down and to think the $$$ will go to schools...bull...Corbett cut education. Instead of losing qualified jobs work on creating new jobs. Every isle I walk down there is a salesperson...we'll end up with one inexperienced cashier. What we need is reform. Mix and match cases at beer distributors, full bottle wine sales at bars/restaurants, wholesale prices to restaurants, if it ain't broke...don't fix it!!!!
Martin Heldring February 02, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Jim, can you provide any evidence to your assertion that privatization will result in higher crime and more DUI's? Please be specific.
Ike February 02, 2013 at 09:07 PM
Governor Corbett SHOULD QUIT.
Ann February 02, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Jim, obviously some people do think its broke.... henceforth the debate!
Martin Heldring February 02, 2013 at 11:14 PM
i lived in Illinois for years and miss the same convenience, service, selection, quality and prices.
Jim February 03, 2013 at 02:00 AM
I've never belonged to a union, but I approve of unions or otherwise your wages would be lower and you wouldn't get any bennies. Unions raise the bar. I've worked in retail and wholesale in executive positions. Don’t think businesses care about you. It's all about the bottom line. You obviously don't drink high end liquor or wine. If a quality bottle of wine is stored in an upright position the cork shrinks and air gets in the bottle. I've lived in states that are privatized. I had to travel from one store to another to get the products I want because not all carry the same product. I have my own business as a Gen Contractor; experience first hand people who’d go buy a six pk after bars close. I drive workers home do to DUI’s or a crashed car while drunk. I didn’t take a scientific study of DUI increase it’s my opinion and common sense from my everyday contact with the abusers of alcohol. Why give them more opportunities. I guess your pro for legalizing pot to then we have something in common not one record of DUI anywhere. If you guys are so down on Govt live in another country. The Police, Paramedics, Nat. Guard, Armed Serv’s, etc are all Govt run divisions and are doing just fantastic. Fact I don’t need a gun to protect myself. Save your money don’t drink it you too will have a retirement plan! Favorite Vodka is Vox 19.99 in PA in NJ its 27.99! It's about PROFITS! Taxes won't go down after the sale of PA Liq. stores! Fact Corbett cut educ 1.1 billion
Ann February 03, 2013 at 02:57 AM
Jim, I don't know what you're talking about. Unions raise the bar...doubt it. The guys smoking pot and drinking on thier lunch break didn't even loose their jobs. I don't see bad teachers losing their jobs. The woman that helped me at the post office the other day was not someone who set the bar high I can tell you that! I don't believe you are not a union guy. I have had various jobs throughout the years, I have been lucky enough to get paid a fair wage and get good benefits. I never felt that my bosses were looking to stick it to me. In regard to your drunk friends, you need to get new friends. I haven't had to be someone's designated driver in 25 years. Who are you hanging with?
Rosemary B February 03, 2013 at 03:52 AM
Jim, if you are so in favor of big government in control of everything maybe it is you who should go live in another country. Cuba, North Korea, China all come to mind. There are some things government should not be involved in. I think the sale of liquor is one of them.
CivicRepublican February 03, 2013 at 04:15 PM
If teachers back this, they are fools! Corbett will still - by executive fiat?! - destroy their pension system. Their unions & legislative friends - should elicit the promise - in writing - that he will not do so. We will see then if he is an honorable man.
Jim February 03, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Wow! Education is the key, I’m sorry Ann you can’t comprehend what you read. Since you want to attack me personally, I refrain replying to your comments. Back to the issue and Facts. PA's liquor revenue is generated by taxes not markup on the product. PLCB is the largest purchaser of liquor in the USA passing on the savings to us. Cumulative buying power. Private will not. Taxes remain as is under privatization. Private companies need to make a profit hence raising retail price of product. PLCB 2011-12 sales $2.1 billion profits of $494 million to help finance other state services. Again, cost of Vox Vodka in PA is $19.99 in NJ its $27.99. Three private, key word "private", distribution companies supply liquor to PA. In ’09 they stored product in trailers exposed to heat, breaking contract with PLCB re:cost/profits. Suppliers and PLCB suggest 75 degrees preventing spoilage...PhillyBoy.
CivicRepublican February 03, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Watch closely! Will the lucrative pension system be preserved for legislators, municipal & county politicians, and their so-called "aides", while teachers, police, firefighters, & other public employees pay up for the budgetary malfeasance of the former? Wanna bet?!
Jim February 03, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Fact: Corbett cut edu. $1.1 Billion. His approval rate just drop’d again to 38% among the lowest in the nation. Canada study shows 27.5% increase in alcohol related deaths since privatization retained from death certificates. Undercover studies also found private more likely to serve underage consumers. 1/3 of all traffic accidents are caused by drunk driving. Not including traffic accidents Alcohol abuse is the 3rd largest cause of deaths of 9% underage. Colorado tax revenue from pot sales $2.2 million. FDA reports ZERO deaths from pot use. Benefits: Save billions fighting it. Reduce Mexico border problems. Cost reduction in jails. High revenue from farming to taxing. Remember prohibition? Instead of getting rid of PLCB stores we add the revenue of marijuana sales under a proven controlled environment with same laws as alcohol. My sources are from Government statistics not partisan groups. But you Righties keep coming with your ridiculous comments and the Dems will control the House, Senate, and the President’s office. Corbett is next. 1.1 million more Dems than Rep in PA. with 1.1 million independents. Now you know why the Right wants to redistrict and change voter registration laws. CHEERS! SALUD! SALUTE! PROHST!
Martin Heldring February 03, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Jim- are you suggesting that there is not a single study among the 48 states that have privatized liquor sales in the United States that shows it results in higher DUI's or deaths due to drinking? Please tell me if there is one and what it shows. Can you also tell me what the liquor board revenues are after fully loading all expenses including pension and health care benefits? Lastly, I think you are suggesting that the state should also be involved in the sale of pot. Do you see any limits to the businesses in which the government should be involved? For example, should prescription drugs be brought under the liquor control board? Would Pennsylvania get better prices as a result of Pennsylvania’s buying power? Would they be satisfied with the more limited access to their prescriptions? I assume you would say no but what exactly is the difference then alcohol and prescription drugs? Thank you.
Ann February 03, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Jim, How did I insult you personally? I stated that I believed you were a union guy. Is that an attack?
Luray February 03, 2013 at 05:57 PM
The state won't "loose" anything; it still will collect its sales taxes and its liquor taxes. It will no longer have to pay pensions and benefits for its liquor store employees. The higher wholesale gas tax will go toward roads, not toward the general fund. In other states, alcohol sales at big box stores co-exist peacefully with smaller, locally owned business. Anyone who has ever stepped foot outside of Pennsylvania knows that.
Luray February 03, 2013 at 05:59 PM
There are things the government should operate: transportation, education, etc. Liquor sales is not one of those things.
Luray February 03, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Why would you think the state would no longer collect taxes on liquor sales? Duh.
Luray February 03, 2013 at 06:04 PM
There will be no lost revenue. The state will still collect sales and liquor taxes. The state will collect license fees on more than a one-time basis. Existing mom and pop shops will co-exist with supermarkets, convenience stores, and large chain liquor stores. This happens all over the country. Some of those mom-and-pop shops specialize in higher end products, and make quite a pretty penny. The savings will come through the state no longer paying benefits and pensions for liquor store workers. That will be left up to private enterprise.
Jim February 03, 2013 at 07:04 PM
MH: Gave my opinion/some facts. No need for more research to satisfy your needs. I’ll voice my opinion come Elect Day as I did voting for Pres Obama. Seemed to work just fine. Yes I'm suggesting legalizing marijuana same as legalization of alcohol 1933 cause it cost billions with prohibition as billions are costing taxpayers to fight marijuana. Grain/corn farmers switched to harvest marijuana in approved states, now millionaires instead of a negative income boosting the economy. Not suggesting you use pot but maybe you should try it. More control of your body/mind vs booze, can come out of a high almost immediately can’t say the same for booze. Yet still no proof to auto/over use deaths related to marijuana. Don’t get me started on Prescript drugs. 80% of the worlds anti-depressants/pain killers sold in the USA causing more automotive deaths. Science is able to take natural elements out of marijuana to pill form targeting specific illness w/o synthetic side effects, but can’t use it until pot is legal. I’m not a stoner nor an alcoholic. I’m a successful mid-aged businessman, father, grandfather and neither booze or pot effect my lifestyle or success. Moderation. My daughter lives in CO, uses medical marijuana for her Crones disease, for the first time she experiences a normal life, she’s a corporate executive, community leader, musician, music therapist for children with mental disease and mentor for abused children. As they say in Jamaica, “Ire”. Peace out!
Jim February 03, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Ann: I stated I own my own business how can I be a union worker? Basically you called me a liar...plus you suggested I get new friends..again you didn't read, these "drunks" aren't my friends its the work pool I have to hire from...not all...but high percentage. I call it "construction mentality". Shame they are skilled workers with bad habits.They get their paycheck on Friday and drink it on the weekend. They are the ones who stated to me they're excited to get their six pack a Walmart to drink more after the bars close. Retract: mini mart because they have a DUI and have to walk hence why I have to drive them home after work. Too bad Unions aren't present in my line of work cause I could charge more and pay my guys more but instead I have fly by night guys charging $10 an hour w/o liability or workerscomp insurance making me reduce my price to be near competitive. Why do you thing you get a fair wage? Do I have to remind everyone why unions where established in the first place. I do agree they go over board, but they have made concessions and are more in line to my beliefs. Thanks for the conversation eveyone but I'm out of here. I have a business to run.
Ann February 03, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Jim, Believe me, no one wants to get you started if your past comments are you in neutral! You seem to have the opinion that everyone needs to see things from your point of view and what works for you and your family should work for all. News flash...people have different views and different life experiences. Try to get out f your box.
Martin Heldring February 03, 2013 at 08:16 PM
No worries Jim. I just think this is important conversation where facts are more appropriate than anecdotes. I asked because I cannot find any studies to support your assertions. Thought you might have them but I guess not.
bigben February 03, 2013 at 09:09 PM
all consumer goods and services should be privatized. You want state run supermarkets ?
Mike legacy April 08, 2013 at 02:24 AM
Open the state to online sales. I'm sick of having to order 6 bottles of the scotch I like because the dumbass state PLCB won't let me buy online (where prices are up to 30% cheaper on a lot of things, including my favorite scotch).

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