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Corbett's Liquor Privatization Plan to Fund Education: What Do You Think?

The governor says $1 billion in funding will be used to create the "Passport for Learning Block Grant" to create greater flexibility in schools.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Corbett announced plans to privatize the liquor system in Pennsylvania and committed $1 billion in proceeds from the process to education funding.

The governor said the money will be used to create the Passport for Learning Block Grant, which will provide flexibility to schools and allow public educators, not Harrisburg, decide what students need.

The grant will focus on four priority areas: school safety, enhanced early education programs, individualized learning and science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and programs.

“Our proposal is part of my commitment to changing Harrisburg, streamlining
government and moving Pennsylvania forward,” Corbett said. “Our plan gives
consumers what they want by increasing choice and convenience, and helps to
secure our future by adding $1 billion in funding toward the education of our
children, without raising any taxes.”

The $1 billion in revenue will come from the three to four year process of selling the LCB: $575 million from the wholesale license process, $224 million from the wine and spirits retail auction process, $107 million from the wine/beer license
application process and $112.5 million in the enhanced beer distributor application process.

“Pennsylvania and Utah are the only two states in the country who have fully state-controlled liquor systems,” Corbett said. “Our plan sells both the wholesale and retail arms of the state-run liquor business.”

Currently, there are about 600 state stores in Pennsylvania. The governor’s plan allows for 1,200 wine and spirits stores. During the previous decade, the state stores’ expenses have grown faster than their revenues, Corbett said.

He said his plan will offer Pennsylvania consumers greatly increased convenience and choice because they will be able to buy the products they desire in a simpler, more accessible and more rational way.

Pennsylvania currently has fewer alcohol retail establishments per resident than the average state. This proposal would allow the number of establishments to be naturally driven by the market, as it is in other states, Corbett said.

The governor’s plan also calls for significantly enhanced fines for selling to minors and visibly intoxicated patrons, with penalty ranges increasing from $1,000 to $5,000 to $5,000 to $10,000.

The additional money from license surcharges and increased fines will be designated for enforcement efforts of the Pennsylvania State Police and Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, which will see a 22 percent funding increase under this plan.

Corbett also proposes a 75 percent funding increase for alcohol treatment and prevention efforts.

We want to know what you think? Is Corbett's plan to privatize the liquor system the right move? What do you think of the plan to fund education programs with the proceeds? Leave your opinion in the comments section below.

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Kathleen Schawalder January 31, 2013 at 01:49 PM
YEAH!!!!!. The idea of government 100% in control of anything is never a good one. I'm looking forward to better choices, competitive prices and more locations when purchasing a bottle of wine. The turnover cannot happen soon enough.
Debbie Belfiore January 31, 2013 at 05:04 PM
It's about time we step in the 21'st century!!!! out of state visitors can't believe you can't buy a 6 pack or bottle of wine in our convenience stores
Eric Gordon January 31, 2013 at 05:10 PM
I support the privatization of the liquor business, however I STRONGLY disagree with using the proceeds to fund education in the form of a four year block grant. Remember what happened when the state used TARP money to fund education? They got a two year block of federal money, chunked that into education, then went and pulled the same amount of state money from education to use for other programs. The result was that when the federal money went away, the state was left with a huge hole in its education budget. That's why your property taxes have been going through the roof the past few years, to cover the reduction in state funding (not to mention the way the state funded public school employee pensions). If school districts build this money into their baseline budgets, as they will, the taxpayer is going to get screwed again when it dries up. People need to tell their legislators to cut the feel-good crap of selling this as "for the children". Sell the stores to the private sector; it's where they should have been in the first place. Take that money and pay down state debt or invest in cost-saving efficiency improvements for existing services. Most importantly, stop looking for ways to kick financial problems past the next election cycle! Instead, focus on long-term sustainable and predictable budgeting with no gimmicks and minimal tax increases.
Sandra Lucree Gambon January 31, 2013 at 07:56 PM
The time of State Stores has long since passed. Move PA into the 21st century, and fund the education system; it's a Win,Win.
Mary February 01, 2013 at 12:19 AM
I say go for it! I have lived in 3 states and I hate the PA liquor store sales. I love going to the grocery store and buying my food and alcohol for a dinner. One stop shopping. Saves gasoline and money at the same time! I say it's about time!

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