I am writing to oppose the bill to privatize Pennsylvania's state store system. This bill moved far too quickly through the legislative process with too little vetting and is the wrong approach for the commonwealth to take.
The state store system, operating more than 600 stores since the 1930s, is well run and provides the state with an unending stream of revenue. This proposal would sell off those stores and our state would recoup only about $800 million.
A one-time cash infusion in place of a steady income source is a bad long-term decision. We don't need to sell our stores, especially if the money gained can be used only once. This plan offers no permanent solutions.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board last year contributed more than $500 million in taxes and profits and those profits continue to grow. What happens once the money raised from the store sales to private owners runs out?
Advocates argue the change will encourage competitive liquor pricing, but that has not been proven. In fact, a 2008 study by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found liquor purchased in neighboring states was actually marginally more expensive than liquor sold in Pennsylvania. Customer convenience could also be adversely affected if stores in rural areas are forced to close.
I'm asking my fellow legislators to reject this measure. It's a shortsighted plan with the potential to do more harm than good.
Pennsylvania consumers deserve better.
State Sen. Daylin Leach
The writer, a Democrat, represents the 17th senatorial district in Montgomery County.
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