Harrisburg Happenings: Sean Wiley
Senator Sean Wiley on the liquor privatization bill.
The discussion surrounding Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget is ongoing. The legislature, for the most part, has found some very concerning issues within the proposal.
One very controversial issue under debate is the Governor's plan to privatize our state-run liquor sales system. HB 790 was recently approved by the House of Representatives, and now it will be discussed in the Senate.
My position on this issue has remained consistent; a position against the privatization of this system.
The system, as it stands today, transfers approximately $100 million a year into the General Fund. By privatizing the system, we could be looking at a loss of revenue and an increase in costs where administration and enforcement is concerned. In essence, we would be jeopardizing a relatively consistent funding stream for a short term gain from the one-time sale of licenses. Another point made in the argument against this plan is that the current system employs nearly 5,000 Pennsylvanians. Putting these family-sustaining jobs and people's livelihood on the line is not the path to take at a time when unemployment is out of control and we are trying to bounce back
from a recession.
I am not suggesting the current system is perfect. What we need to do is to move the discussion from privatization to modernization, and I believe that is what you will see take place in the Senate. Instead of selling off this asset, and killing thousands of jobs, let's modernize the system.
I am one of many bi-partisan co-sponsors of legislation proposed by Senator Jim Ferlo that would modernize the PLCB as well as the operation of the Wine & Spirits Stores, and beer distributors. The bill would allow for more appropriate pricing, flexibility in hiring, acquisition of in-demand products and direct shipment of wine, while also providing for package reform in beer sales. It would allow the PLCB to open more stores, remove the cap on the number of stores that can operate on Sundays, extend the permitted hours of operation on Sundays, as well as allow for other conveniences.
With modernization, we can improve customer experience, streamline the operations of the PLCB, and increase the profitability of the agency by tens of millions.
The overwhelming majority of phone calls and emails I receive in my office are in opposition to liquor privatization. So where do I stand on HB 790? Again, I stand with the majority of my constituents. I can tell you that you will not see a 'yes' vote from me on liquor privatization.
For more information on the Sen. Ferlo's modernization legislation, you can visit www.legis.state.pa.us. As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns on this issue or any other state-related matter, do not hesitate to contact my office by calling (814) 453-2515 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.