Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Chester County Republican Party

Should selling of liquor in Pennsylvania continue as a state-controlled monopoly or should prohibition end?

Should the Pennsylvania State Liquor Board be abolished?

Did you know that aside from Utah, Pennsylvania is the only other state with complete government control of wine and liquor?

Things are once again heating up to privatize the state-owned liquor stores. One of Gov. Corbett’s campaign talking points was the privatization of the state store system and it continues to move in that direction.

On one side we have many state government jobs at risk with the abolishment of the Pennsylvania State Liquor Board and the selling off of the 620 liquor stores. United Food and Commercial Workers union represents the 3,500 state liquor store employees whose jobs are in jeopardy if the state privatizes the wine and liquor stores. But couldn’t one argue that the state employees might well stay employed with the privatization . . . privately owned liquor stores still require employees and ex-state liquor store employees would be a match.

On the other side, there are those in favor of privatizing wine and liquor stores who suggest that the competition will lower prices and increase selection for the consumer. And why wouldn’t that be good for Pennsylvanians? How many of us currently drive to Delaware when we need cases of wine . . . ?

House Majority leader Mike Turzai R-Alleghany is driving the privatization and has a proposal scheduled for the end of the month to sell the liquor stores. There are approximately 1,200 liquor licenses in Pennsylvania – how much revenue would selling the licenses produce? It is estimated that the revenue could be as high as $2 billion. Just this week, I read that the Pennsylvania State Liquor Board reported for 2010, a 4% increase in sales to $1.96 billion!

As an aside, I noted a proposed local connection to the liquor control board. According to a Daily Local article, Gov. Corbett has nominated Skip Brion, chair of the Chester County Republican Committee to the state liquor board. At this point, it is unclear whether Brion will resign from his political leadership role in the county.

What do you think? Should selling of liquor in Pennsylvania continue to operate as a state-controlled monopoly or after 75 years, should prohibition end?

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