HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The chairman of the Liquor Control Board Wednesday defended a plan to raise prices on more than 400 wine and spirits products later this month. The planned price hike has drawn criticism from advocates of privatizing liquor sales in Pennsylvania.
Last month, the Liquor Control Board sent a letter to suppliers inviting them to “reduce product acquisition costs in advance” of price changes. A spokesman for majority House Republicans Wednesday said the letter told vendors to “cut their prices to the state… or else.”
“Well, look, I’m not going to get into a debate with the General Assembly. Act 39 was clear in giving us our right to negotiate price, and that’s what we’ve done,” said LCB Chairman Tim Holden. “It was clear to get away from the formula which basically let the suppliers set the retail price, and allow us to set the retail price and negotiate what we pay to suppliers.”
But the House GOP spokesman says the intent of the legislation was to allow the market place to determine prices, not to authorize, in his words, “extorting vendors.” At a meeting Wednesday, a member of the Distilled Spirits Council asked the LCB to delay the planned price hike until after the holidays. But the chairman says the increase of about a dollar on 422 products will take effect later this month.