Even compromise not enough to liquor privatization foes
When it comes liquor privatization in Pennsylvania, even a compromise plan isn’t good enough for the opponents.
Democrats last week blasted a plan circulated by Republican senators to liberalize sale of alcoholic beverages and loosen state control by allowing thousands of private retailers to sell bottles of wine to go.
Sen. Jim Ferlo, an Allegheny County Democrat, said the plan would sap money from the state treasury and hurt small businesses to benefit big businesses.
There will always be gloom and doom predicted by the naysayers to liquor privatization.
Apparently they know more than everyone else, because 48 of the 50 states have some form of liquor privatization, with Pennsylvania and Utah being the exceptions.
The Senate Republican plan would not even shut down the state-controlled wine and liquor system, as we would prefer. It would keep the state-controlled wholesale and retail system. It would end the state’s control over the sale of wine. It would keep the state stores as the only retailer of hard liquor.
Thousands of holders of existing liquor licenses that currently sell takeout beer would be allowed to sell wine bottles to go.
The plan would relax restrictions on convenience stores, grocery stores, big-box stores and supermarkets.
In other words, it’s a compromise plan.
But that apparently is not enough for those who will resist anything that cuts into government ownership.
As if the system has worked.
We wish Pennsylvania would simply sell the licenses, take the needed revenue from them to blunt this year’s budget deficit, turn the system over to private concerns and move on. But even this watered down plan would be better than what the state has, which is, quite frankly, sadly comical.