Corbett pitches LCB privatization in Delco

Posted: March 15, 2013

Gov. Corbett again made his case Wednesday for the privatization of liquor sales, saying "antiquated" laws hold Pennsylvania in a Prohibition-era mind-set.

"Here in Pennsylvania we make it as hard as possible to buy a bottle of wine on a Sunday," said Corbett, speaking to the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce in Springfield and flanked by business leaders and educators. "We should listen to what the people want."

Corbett's pitch, to make 1,200 liquor licenses available to grocery stores, drugstores, and wholesalers, would lead to $1 billion in revenue, he said. That money would pay for block grants that would be invested in public schools, specifically in safety improvements and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, among others.

"It's clear that selling liquor is not a core function of government, but education is," Corbett said.

Corbett said the laws also encourage residents to buy liquor and wine in New Jersey and Delaware, leading to millions of dollars of lost revenue.

Pennsylvania is one of only two states to retain a state-controlled liquor system. About 70 percent of Pennsylvanians polled support privatization, Corbett said Wednesday.

Corbett's liquor-privatization bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last week.

Opponents have said that privatization would put small stores, as well as beer distributors, in danger of being squeezed out by big-box retailers.

Alex Chalton, president of the chamber of commerce, said a third of the licenses made available would be earmarked for small stores.

"Our position is easy on this," he said. "There's no reason the state should have a monopoly."

Rural lawmakers also have expressed concern that private liquor stores will be concentrated around larger towns and cities, meaning residents in far-flung areas will have less access.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party also released a statement Wednesday that criticized Corbett for failing to show leadership in solving the state's school funding problems.

"Instead of giving Pennsylvania children a stable source of income to fund their education, the governor has irresponsibly tied school funding to a liquor privatization plan that has critics on both sides of the aisle," the statement read.

Contact Allison Steele at 610-313-8113 or

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