Push For Liquor Privatization Continues

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SCRANTON -- The governor made a stop in Lackawanna County to talk about his plan to privatize the liquor system in Pennsylvania.

Friday morning's news conference in Scranton was the third stop on Governor Tom Corbett's tour.

Governor Corbett is traveling around the state to pitch his plan to sell more than 600 state stores and auction off 1200 private liquor licenses.

The governor announced his plan to sell state liquor stores on Wednesday.

Since then, he has made presentations in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and now Scranton. The next stop for the legislation is the state house. Governor Corbett said lawmakers will start looking at the plan next week.

This morning Governor Corbett and supporters of his legislation held a news conference at the governor's regional office in downtown Scranton.

He reiterated his plan to sell state stores and sell liquor licenses to entrepreneurs, grocery stores, or big box stores.

Governor Corbett took questions from reporters about potential roadblocks in getting legislation passed because at least two previous governors have tried privatizing liquor sales and failed.

“There are people, because it’s change, because it’s going to be different, that are afraid of change. And we are trying to address everybody’s concerns. We know the beer distributors are worried. What’s this going to do to their licenses, we actually think this is going to enhance the value of their licenses and that they are going to be able to have the opportunity to sell wine and spirits in their stores if they so desire,” said Governor Corbett.

If the Governor's plan for state liquor sales takes effect, stores like the Wine and Spirits Shoppe on Meadow Avenue in Scranton would be privately run. The plan would also allow beer distributors and big box stores to sell wine and liquor.

"Like if you wanted to do it all in one fell swoop, you waste gas, you waste time and if the weather's bad in Scranton which it always is, it's annoying to get in and out of the car," said Marguerite Quinn, a University of Scranton student.

Governor Corbett's stop in Scranton was the governor's third on a statewide tour to promote the liquor legislation, that he said will pay for itself, and provide a one-time, $1 billion block grant for education.

Many people we spoke to, specifically state store customers, said they support the governor's proposed changes, but will believe it when they see it.

"I'm saying I think it's a 50/50 deal, it could be. I think it's closer now than it ever was, but whether it will actually happen? That I'm not sure of," said Arlington Phillips of Scranton.

To counter the governor's visit, State Senator John Yudichak held a news conference Friday at a beer distributor in Wilkes-Barre where he talked about the possible consequences of the governor's legislation to privatize the liquor system.