Literally Giving Away The Store: PA Senate Votes 27-22 For Liquor Privatization Bill

Vote will blow a huge hole in the budget, and eliminate 5,000 family-sustaining jobs.

Wine & Spirits StoresIn what was an expected move today, the PA State Senate voted in favor of House Bill 466, which would shut down the entire system of publicly owned Wine and Spirits Stores in Pennsylvania, and massively expand alcohol sales.

The Wine & Spirits Stores are a valuable public asset, one which provides more than $550 million to the general fund annually in profits, taxes, and services.  Alternative proposals to modernize, rather than give away, the system would have added an additional $185 million per year in revenue.  Just two days ago, Senator Chuck McIlhinney, Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, acknowledged “the liquor system gives us money every year for our budget… so it is a positive revenue asset for us.”  Today senator McIlhinney joined 26 of his Republican colleagues in voting for this destructive legislation.

This was a vote to give away the store, literally – it is unlikely that new permit fees will even cover the cost of shutting down the public stores, and every year moving forward, if this bill became law, the Commonwealth will have to make up hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from new sources.

This was also a vote to destroy 5,000 good family-sustaining jobs all across Pennsylvania.  Even the previous administration acknowledged that no jobs will be created by liquor sales in grocery stores and other new retail outlets, and the re-training funds made available by HB 466 will do nothing to help the families whose lives will be turned upside down by this bad legislation.

This is nothing but an ideological attack by small-government extremists, and it is one that the State Senate refused to even debate in the previous legislative session.  HB466 now moves back to the State House for a concurrence vote.  The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, and our affiliated unions, have made it clear to ALL members of the State House and State Senate that we oppose this legislation, and that we consider it to be an unconscionable attack on working families.

Three Republicans joined all Democratic Senators in opposition of HB466 this afternoon.  They were Senators Brooks, Greenleaf, and Scavello.