Politics & Policy

Corbett: Privatize State-Run Liquor System, Fix Budget

Pennsylvania has long been notorious for stringent controls over its alcohol, but if Tom Corbett becomes the next governor, that could change, fast.

The commonwealth is one of very few states to assert such control over beer and liquor. Liquor stores — known colloquially for decades as “state stores” — are, as implied, state-run, and beer is available only through distributors, not in groceries or convenience stores.

“As governor,” Corbett told reporters in a statement, “I will present a plan for the privatization of the state liquor store system that helps to address the state’s need for additional funds, insures ongoing revenues and minimizes the impact on current workers.”

“Given the current economic climate in Pennsylvania, state government can no longer be in the liquor store business. We need to move our state out of the 19th century and refocus state government on its core functions and services for our residents.”

Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Turzai, long a proponent for privatization, has predicted that as much as $2 billion could be generated from the sale of the stores alone, with annual tax revenue of more than $500 million.

And with a projected budget deficit of more than $4 billion next year, a Governor Corbett could use that revenue, even as he slims down the budget, to plug holes while keeping his promise not to raise taxes or fees.

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