LETTER: Potential dangers of liquor privatization in Pa.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I’ve recently attended public hearings on Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2016-17 state budget plan, learning about the fiscal health of commonwealth agencies. I was particularly pleased to hear that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board sold a record-setting $2.34 billion in wine and spirits in fiscal year 2014-15.
However, to ensure the agency keeps growing sales, the PLCB has agreed with House Democrats that we must make the state system more convenient for customers. This goal could be achieved by expanding store hours and Sunday sales, establishing flexible pricing, and allowing lottery ticket sales in stores. Upon full implementation, these and other efforts would generate at least an additional $125 million annually.
I know there’s a small group that wants to do away with the state store system entirely. But they should know that such a move would do lasting damage. Privatization would cost $3 billion over 20 years — far outweighing the one-time revenue of $1 billion to be gained. Thousands of family-sustaining jobs would be lost. And Gov. Wolf vetoed the latest privatization proposal to reach his desk, so why would legislators waste more time debating a similarly ill-fated bill?
Privatization is a losing game for Pennsylvania, but don’t just take my word for it. A few years after Washington state privatized its system, the outgoing chief of its LCB commented privatization was “the dumbest thing we ever did.” Pennsylvania is smarter than to follow down this troubled path.
The old saying is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Our system isn’t broken; it just needs some tweaks to make it even better.
REP. MARIA DONATUCCI (D)
185th Legislative District,
Delaware/ Philadelphia counties