ERROR: Macro DefaultArticleHeader is missing!
CPBJ Extra Blog

Liquor privatization update: Cracks seen in support, logic

By - Last modified: May 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM
Brent Burkey
Brent Burkey

It turns out that time does not appear to be on the side of Gov. Tom Corbett and most of the Republicans in the state House when it comes to the historic alcohol sales reform proposal passed in the chamber earlier this year but slowed down considerably in the Senate.

In fact, a little pop quiz action here. What do you think Pennsylvanians show more support for: gay marriage or privatizing state stores?

Did you say privatizing state stores? Wrong.

According to the May installment of The Franklin & Marshall College Poll, a minority of respondents (47 percent) now either strongly or somewhat support the commonwealth selling state-owned liquor stores to private companies.

That's down from a majority (53 percent) back in February.

Meanwhile, 54 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat favor the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry, according to the poll.

At the same time, a state House Republican from Lancaster County has introduced the education side of the privatization proposal.

Rep. Ryan Aument's bill calls for all of proceeds from the liquor privatization bill — up to about $1 billion — to go to education through a four-year grant program called Passport for Learning.

School districts would have flexibility to use the money — but only in prescribed areas. So that was a foul-ball first strike, in my mind, against the proposal.

Strike two was a free-swinging whiff from a curve ball. And that doesn't leave much margin for error going forward.

After outlining all the ways a district could use money — safety and security, early education for core subject competency, etc. — Aument's release made it clear that these funds will be temporary.

They won't keep coming back year after year. And school districts will have to acknowledge that fact.

That's smart, right? Make sure school districts won't increase spending in a way that they aren't willing to make up for or cut once the funds run out.

Well, who in their right minds would hire security guards, only to fire them when the well runs dry? Or who would get the ball rolling on a great early learning program if they'll just have to cut it for budgetary reasons once it starts to work well?

And if districts could just wave a magic wand and find more money to pick up where the state grants drop off, they wouldn't have needed the state grants in the first place.

Brent Burkey covers retail, tourism, and Lebanon and York counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

ERROR: Macro defaultSidebar is missing!
ERROR: Macro footer_top is missing!
Back to Top