Plan To Privatize: Will It Happen?

LACKAWANNA COUNTY — Governor Tom Corbett wants to privatize the liquor system in Pennsylvania, making it possible to pick up beer and wine in supermarkets, big box, and convenience stores.

“And once and for all getting out of the business of selling wine and spirits,” said Governor Corbett Wednesday.

In four years, Corbett wants to sell off more than 600 state owned stores and auction off 1,200 private liquor licenses.

It is a move he said will bring in $1 billion which he promises will go to fund education.

Dr. Christopher Speicher of Marywood University is a business and political science expert.

“I think the common misconception is that the Liquor Control Board is making an enormous amount of money for the state of Pennsylvania. The reality is that last year, the 2010-2011 budget it lost $31.2 million. It has a lot of other functions. Where they make the most money is in the wholesale of the liquor to the stores themselves, and then stores are selling them, and the current proposal is for the state to stay in that business to remain as the single and sole supplier in the state,” he said.

Corbett’s plan has some worried and others excited.

This is the third time in 30 years such a plan has been proposed.

Former Republican Governors Dick Thornburgh and Tom Ridge tried it and failed.

Dr. Speicher said this time, it could be successful.

“The latest Quinnipiac poll is showing 61% of Pennsylvania is supporting it, and I think if it came down to an increase in state taxes and the sale of the liquor control system, the stores that the public would be in favor overwhelmingly in terms of privatizing the system, ” he said.

State unions oppose Corbett’s plan which they said will cut about 5,000 jobs, but Corbett promises about the same number of jobs will be created if the system goes private.

48 states in the country have private liquor systems.

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