Tuesday, February 5, 2013

PA guv wants to repeat WA liquor privatization disaster

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett today proposed following Washington state's disastrous example and selling the state's liquor stores.

After Washington state privatized its liquor stores, prices rose 17 percent. Bar, restaurant and retail sales volume fell 9 percent.

So why do it? Corbett said the profit will fund education. But Pennsylvania schools wouldn't need the money  if Corbett hadn't slashed education two years ago.

The Sentinel reports,
Corbett’s proposal would sell the wholesale and retail arms of Pennsylvania’s liquor business over the next three to four years. The $1 billion that process generates, he said, would create the Passport for Learning block grant to help schools throughout the state improve safety, enhance early education, focus on individualized learning, and improve science, technology, engineering and math instruction and emphasis. 
Ironically, when Republican Gov. Gifford Pinchot created the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in 1933, he said it was to “discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” 
Besides providing a one-time infusion of $1 billion for education if his privatization plan goes through, Corbett has said selling the state stores would offer consumers increased convenience and choice “because they will be able to buy the products they desire in a simpler, more accessible and more rational way.”
We think it's a bad idea. So do Democratic state lawmakers:
“I don’t think the safety and security ... is worth the risk,” said Sen. Tim Solobay, D-46. 
“This raises a serious concern for the safety and security of Pennsylvania citizens,” Sen. Vince Hughes, D-7, said in a news release after Corbett announced his plan.
Todd Farrally at DailyKos argued against it:
Under privatization, Pennsylvania will surely have to create another bureaucracy just to collect tax revenue from all the many private retailers that will exist. Under the streamlined system we currently have, we don't have to chase our money, it's automatically there because PA handles the distribution and sale of our hard liquor and wine. 
The pricing is kept low because the Commonwealth has sheer buying power on its side and is not looking to up profits every quarter...
We must also consider the 5,000 trained union employees that make a good living with benefits. They will be replaced with cheap labor that will contribute less to our tax base. 
Those union jobs include Teamster jobs.

Looks like we have another fight on our hands...