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Pennsylvania Lawmakers, In Philadelphia, Hear Testimony On Sell-Off Of State Stores

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(A hearing on state store privatization held today at the Pennsylvania Convention Center by members of the House Democratic Policy Committee.  Photo by Steve Tawa)

(A hearing on state store privatization held today at the Pennsylvania Convention Center by members of the House Democratic Policy Committee. Photo by Steve Tawa)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A group of Pennsylvania lawmakers visited Philadelphia today to hear testimony on the idea of selling off Pennsylvania’s state-owned liquor stores.  The move could fetch $2 billion or more, according to some estimates.

But House Democratic Policy Committee chairman Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster County) questioned number-crunchers on whether the one-shot jolt of selling 750 retail and 100 wholesale licenses made common sense.

“So, I would sell off my asset for 2.5 billion dollars? — which I think is an outrageous number that’s overinflated,” Sturla said during the hearing.

“We believe Pennsylvania will get better services, lower prices, and greater selection on alcohol products through privatization,” responded Nathan Benefield, director of policy research for the conservative think tank Commonwealth Foundation.

State representative Babette Josephs of Philadelphia, a critic of selling off the Pennsylvania state store system, says it would take away more than $100 million in annual revenue that the stores clear.

“They are trying to kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” she said of proponents of the plan.

Benefield testified the revenue would be replaced by taxes under a licensing scheme.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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