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Poll finds support for liquor store sales

The issue of privatizing Pennsylvania's liquor stores has been pending for three decades, and three Republican governors, including Gov. Tom Corbett, have sought legislation to make that happen. The proposal has never garnered enough support to come up for a floor vote in the Legislature, but that could change this week. File photo

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Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 2:18 p.m.
 

HARRISBURG — Six of 10 Pennsylvania voters support Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to sell the state liquor stores and allow sales of beer, wine and liquor in a combination of supermarkets and specialty stores, according to a poll released on Tuesday.

The poll sponsored by the Commonwealth Foundation found support for privatization even among union households and in the more conservative counties that form a “T” in central and northern Pennsylvania.

Statewide, 61 percent favored privatization, and 35 percent were opposed, with the rest undecided.

Matthew Brouillette, president of the conservative think tank, said the foundation used a nationally recognized pollster that has worked for Democratic clients, including former Gov. Ed Rendell. The question did not mention Corbett by name or his plan to use $1 billion from the sale of liquor licenses for schools.

Corbett, a Shaler Republican, said he believes the poll will give his proposal a boost to get through the state House. The governor would close 619 state stores and auction 1,200 retail licenses. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, gave no specific timetable but said he hopes the House will move forward within two months.

Asked about reluctance from some Republican Senate leaders to embrace full-scale privatization, Corbett said: “Let's go forward. Let's not tinker around the edges. … It's time to change the system.”

The survey of 800 voters by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, was conducted Jan. 22-27. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Among its findings:

• Support is strongest among voters who buy alcohol; 77-22 percent in favor among people who buy booze weekly. Those who never go to state stores oppose divestiture 58-35 percent with 7 percent undecided.

• The top reasons for favoring privatization: less government regulation, convenience, staying competitive with other states and better prices.

• Support was consistent among geographic regions except for Philadelphia, which opposes privatization, 50-46 percent with 4 percent undecided.

• People in Central Pennsylvania and a strip across the northern part of the state favored privatization 62-33 percent with 4 percent undecided. Historically, that has been an area of opposition.

• Union households favor selling liquor stores by a 58-38 percent margin with 4 percent undecided. Pollster Paul Maslin said the poll didn't break out how many union households had members of United Food & Commercial Workers, the union representing 3,500 state store workers which opposes the sale.

Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

 

 

 
 


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