KYW Regional Affairs Council

“State Store Standoff”


By Michelle Durham

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The whole concept of privatizing Pennsylvania “state stores” has been a hotly contested issue for years.  And in the face of ongoing disagreement, how alcohol is sold in the state has remained unchanged.

Some state officials believe the current system should remain unchanged even though surrounding states have adopted other methods.

Pennsylvania auditor general Jack Wagner, for example, is adamantly opposed to privatization.

(Pa. auditor general Jack Wagner. Credit: Mark Abrams)

“State government should not be putting a priority on privatizing entities that are profit-making ventures for the taxpayers,” Wagner (right) told KYW Newsradio recently.

Wagner says state liquor stores generate $500 million in revenue a year, with $100 million in profits going into Pennsylvania coffers.

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“When a state store is collecting the taxes, those dollars are remitted almost instanteously back to the Department of Revenue,” Wagner notes.

Pennsylvania state representative John Taylor (R-Phila.), chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee, says his panel made some changes to House Bill 11 which called for dismantling state stores.  The new proposal, he says, would keep state stores but allow wine to be sold at beer distributors who purchase an additional license.

(Pa. state rep John Taylor. Photo provided)

“You know, it’s a step moving forward for Pennsylvania,” Taylor (right) tells KYW Newsradio.  “Consumers will have a little more choice, a little more competition.   There could be some pressure on prices to go down, and we’ll be more able to compete with other states as well.”

Debate on that bill is expected to start on the House floor in January.

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