Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett wants to privatize the state-run liquor stores. The Republican says he will make that happen during his first year as governor. The idea comes up every few years in Harrisburg but has always been shot down by an unusual marriage of union supporters and for right social conservatives. Corbett argues Pennsylvania’s dire financial circumstances will give the plan momentum, much like a multi-billion dollar deficit paved the way for legalized table games at casinos this year. “You have to keep in mind that I don’t think the last seven governors have faced an economic crisis the likes of which Pennsylvania is looking at right now,” says Corbett, “I think there is a much greater willingness in the general populace, that wants it. The voters, I think, want it. “ A Republican lawmaker who’s long pushed for privatization estimates Pennsylvania could generate two billion dollars by selling off state stores. Opponents of the idea, including Governor Rendell, say the one-time profit isn’t worth the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Corbett disagrees, “I believe he’s wrong, because we’re still going to have a tax on alcohol. We would receive income from that. What we’re looking at is selling a system off to other people. To privatize that system. And to be able to put it on the free market, where it’s going to help the citizens of Pennsylvania in a much more effective way. “ Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato says he is not rejecting the idea of selling the stores, but would be hesitant to lose the annual revenue. At the same time Corbett says he is hesitant to change the beer sales laws. “In many cases those are small mom and pop stores that have been in existence for a long time, and great value in those licenses. And you would want to ensure that their value is maintained. And the same with the small bars that sell – as you know they can sell two six-packs,” says Corbett. Onorato is also against change the beer laws.
The gubernatorial debate held in Pittsburgh October 16th can be heard at the bottom of the post at this link.