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Trib editorial: A costly tutorial for the PLCB

| Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, 8:55 p.m.
Trib photo
Trib photo

Chalk it up as a $60,421.50 “great opportunity.” That's what the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board paid legal and financial consultants to guide the state's liquor monopoly through a directive from Gov. Tom Wolf to borrow from the PLCB to help balance the state's budget, according to PennLive. Ultimately that plan was abandoned.

Nevertheless, the PLCB “learned a great deal about financing, debt issuance and the various players and roles in securitization,” according to an agency spokeswoman. Expensive lessons, indeed, when the PLCB paid consultants up to $410 an hour, separate from the staff time that went into exploring the borrowing option.

And why not, when the unrealized $1.25 billion borrowing plan would have negated any further talk of privatizing the state-run booze business for at least 20 years? Instead, the state will borrow that sum against future revenues from the multi-state settlement with the nation's major tobacco companies.

Apart from whatever the state's liquor authority learned from the experience is the more apparent lesson for taxpayers: “This is what happens when you're spending other people's money,” says Matt Brouillette, president and CEO of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs.

The Legislature didn't help matters when it passed a $32 billion spending plan in June without the means to fully pay for it.

What's sorely needed is a lesson in the public's displeasure, delivered, we trust, by voters in this year's state elections.

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