Senate Liquor Proposal Falls Short

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

Harrisburg, PA – Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation today issued a response to Sen. McIlhinney’s liquor reform proposal:
Pennsylvanians are demanding more convenience, better selection, and lower pricing when it comes to how and where they purchase their alcohol. The proposal introduced today by Sen. McIlhinney falls short in meeting consumers’ expectations—it maintains the state-owned and operated liquor stores as well as the government-run wholesale monopoly of wine and spirits. We agree with Senate Majority Leader Pileggi that this proposal is only a starting point in the liquor privatization debate in the Senate, and that more work needs to be done to get government out of the booze business.

With the government continuing as the wholesale middleman—in charge of supplying all wine and spirits to retail outlets—consumers will not see any greater selection or lower prices.

Under the current system, the PLCB does not provide adequate service to bars, restaurants and taverns—and Sen. McIlhinney’s proposal will only further exacerbate the PLCB’s inefficiencies. Currently, the PLCB does not even provide delivery to restaurants—those owners have to pick up their orders at a state store—and "modernizing" this government-run wholesale system to offer delivery to more than 13,000 retail outlets would cost taxpayers an estimated $700 million.

Finally, by keeping the state-run retail liquor stores in operation without an end date, the proposal made today establishes a system in which government will be competing against small businesses, undermining entrepreneurs seeking to invest in their business and create jobs.

Even with the shortcomings of the proposal made today at the press conference, we are heartened that a strong group of Senate leaders are putting their efforts toward a real privatization bill of both the wholesale and retail operations that can pass the Senate, pass the House and be signed by the Governor.

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For more information, please contact John Bouder, Communications Officer at 717-671-1901 or [email protected].
The Commonwealth Foundation crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.