The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 30, 2013

Governor promises liquor proceeds to schools


The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Gov. Tom Corbett today unveiled an ambitious proposal to get Pennsylvania out of the liquor and wine business by replacing hundreds of state-owned stores with twice as many private outlets and allowing beer and wine to be sold at a wide range of stores.

"I want Pennsylvanians to enjoy the same convenience that virtually every other American today has," said Corbett, who unveiled his proposal at a news conference halfway across the state from the Capitol, where its fate will be decided.

Corbett said the plan would generate an additional $1 billion in revenue over several years. He said the money would be used to create a proposed block grant program to help finance certain public school projects.

Most of the revenue, a projected $575 million, would come from the sale of wholesale liquor licenses.

An additional $224 million is anticipated from the auctioning of 1,200 wine and liquor licenses by the state's 67 counties, with 800 reserved for large stores and 400 for smaller ones. Those licensees would be required to set up separate stores to sell wine and liquor.

Other revenue would flow from the sale of beer and wine licenses to retailers including big-box stores, grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. Beer distributors, which currently only sell beer by the case, could obtain an enhanced license that allows them to sell in smaller quantities.

The plan calls for shutting down the 620 existing state stores, a move strongly opposed by employee unions.

The transition to a fully privatized system could take as long as four years. However, the closing of the state stores would begin within six months and to be completed in the second year, according to the administration.