Debate Over State Liquor Store Privatization Heating Up

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The debate is heating up over whether or not to privatize Pennsylvania’s state liquor store system.

The lawmaker who is the latest to put a proposal on the table, and another lawmaker who is absolutely opposed, squared off during a taping of the KD-PG Sunday Edition.

On one side is State House Majority Leader Republican Mike Turzai, and on the other is Democrat Jim Ferlo. Both have very different views on how wine and spirits should be sold in Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania shouldn’t be in that business,” said Turzai. “Pennsylvania should be like the vast majority of states – out of the business of pushing on a wholesale and retail basis alcohol sales.”

“But the fact of the matter is that we have an enviable system that produces hundreds of millions of dollars and has for decades back to the state government,” said Ferlo. “We have well-paying, family-sustaining middle class jobs.”

Under Turzai’s plan, the state will auction off 1,250 licenses to private retailers, replacing the current 621 state liquor stores, basically doubling the number of retail wine and spirits outlets.

The way Turzai envisions it, some would be specialty wine stores catering to connoisseurs, others would be supermarkets and big box stores like Walmart, where shoppers would value the convenience.

Ferlo doesn’t buy it.

“If you take a poll and ask if the consumer would like to go to the supermarket and pick up a bottle of wine or a six pack, they’re going to say yes; but when you actually delve into what the benefits are that accrue back to state government and the quality of life of our communities, people begin to change their view,” he said.

“It is not an ideological issue. My wife would like to be able to pick up a bottle of wine at the grocery store,” added Turzai. “Sorry Jim, that’s not ideological, it’s about convenience; it’s about selection, it’s about price.”

The governor, a supporter of privatization, says he plans to appoint a commission to study the issue.

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More from Stacy Smith
  • NA

    To bad the debate is about how alchohol is sold…I feel that i so so sad. The fight and or “debate” should be on how to make it illegal. Alchohal has runied lives familys, and killed citizens. It should be taken off the shelf. It is a joke to say that people cant take persciption pills but people can drink. Alchohal not only detomixs your mind but it ruins lives. How is it that everyone is so closed minded.

  • NA is a quitter

    Too bad you are such a wimp and can’t hold your booze. Shut up and stay in the basement where you belong.

    The government has no business being in the liquor business.

  • chevelle64

    no reason for the state to be in this business, sell them, the sooner the better

  • JustSaying

    If it’s such a good idea/money maker to have the state control the liquor business why haven’t more states adopted it? My guess is that it’s NOT all that! As far as the state being better able to control under-age consumption, are they implying private operators would just ignore the drinking age and not do an id check? Again, I disagree with their logic. Whatever brings the most money to the state in the long run is the correct decision. This should be all about state dollars and everything else is irrelevant.

  • The One

    Clearly the private sector could run this much more efficently.

  • 1-2-3

    The opposition is from the Union Employees employed at the State Stores. Nobody wants to see anyone lose their jobs, but the arguements are pretty ridiculous.

  • hwright

    More jobs taken away, more Revenue taken away! When will people realize it takes revenue to run a government? And it come from state owned business and workers! How about we privatize the casinos! Sounds good to me they also ruin peoples lives!

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