What will Corbett have to give up in liquor talks?
If there is a compromise on liquor privatization, it likely will emerge from House-Senate negotiations in June as a “hybrid” plan.
A plan creating more private opportunities while maintaining some semblance of the state store system (the hybrid) might gather the most support, House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney, predicted in January.
Last week, the House approved a bill that would phase out 600 state-owned liquor stores and allow grocery stores to sell wine, and beer distributors to also sell wine and liquor. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi told reporters that there's considerable support in the Senate GOP Caucus for “modernizing” the state stores rather than privatization. That means keeping them.
The issue is important politically to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who faces re-election next year. He's balanced two difficult budgets on time. But there's no notch on his belt that is an attention-getter like selling the state stores. The liquor bill is “a game changer,” said Rep. John Lawrence, R-Chester County.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, has worked for two years to get it through.
In January, Corbett and Turzai proposed eliminating the state stores and creating 1,200 private retail outlets. The plan was watered down by the House Liquor Committee in an effort to get a bill that could pass. The stores would gradually be phased out. There's no $1 billion pool of block grants for school districts.
But for what? To die in the Senate? Perhaps Pileggi's “modernization” comment is a negotiating position.
Sen. Randy Vulokavich, a Shaler Republican and Corbett's state senator, supports privatization. He agrees the talk among Senate Republicans tends to be modernization. That means giving the state stores more businesslike opportunities such as flexible pricing and broader Sunday sales.
Vulokavich thinks the compromise will be keeping the state stores intact, but allowing wine and beer in grocery stores. On one hand, that seems like a waste — keeping the state-paid bureaucracy in place — while allowing private sales. It might, however, be the only politically acceptable version of privatization/modernization.
And even that may come at a price. There's a lot of speculation that Corbett and Turzai will have to give something up to get something they could call “privatization.” The smart money is on transportation funding, which the Senate wants. Pileggi says he doesn't want to link the issues.
“There's no linkage with other issues,” Turzai said.
Another scenario — if Corbett agrees to Medicaid expansion, the Senate might approve liquor. Again, just hallway talk, but a lot of senators want the expansion through ObamaCare. Corbett thus far has resisted, saying it would obligate Pennsylvania taxpayers long-term to paying billions more.
Transportation is the more likely trade.
Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media (717-787-1405 or email@example.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Wash High star McKenzie charged by police, suspended by Virginia Tech
- Steeler lineman Adams sues men he claims attacked, stabbed him
- Homewood shooting victim identified
- Penguins need trade-deadline acquisitions to bring toughness
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Elizabeth Township, McKeesport impacted by ice jam on Youghiogheny River
- Court rules Steelers must pay Okobi workers comp
- Sestak kicks off U.S. Senate campaign — with a couple missteps
- Police: Suspect in 1970 cold case homicide of 17-year-old dies days before charges filed
- Blue Jays’ Martin has ‘nothing but praise’ for former Pirates teammates
- House resolution urges Wolf to reverse death penalty moratorium