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Transparency proposals circulating over taxpayer-funded advertising

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With the goal of greater transparency for Pennsylvania taxpayers, a pair of state lawmakers are proposing legislation that would slap a new label on advertising done by state agencies.

“This ad paid for by you, the taxpayers of PA,” is what Cumberland County Republican Rep. Stephen Bloom is proposing. He began circulating a co-sponsorship memo Monday for a bill that would require all product advertising by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to include that statement.

His argument: The PLCB spends more than $5 million on advertising to increase consumption of alcoholic beverages. At the same time, it is spending millions more to combat the abuse and irresponsible consumption of these very same items.

“While I have long favored abolishing the PLCB’s monopoly on wine and spirits sales, I find it particularly egregious that the governmental agency entrusted with regulating liquor is now immersed in a counter-productive statewide liquor promotion campaign,” Bloom said in his memo.

Earlier this year, the House passed legislation that would privatize the state-run wine and spirit stores. It awaits Senate action.

“Regardless of the form that legislation ultimately takes, if and when it becomes law, I believe it is important now, in the interests of transparency and accountability, to better inform and educate the citizenry as to the self-contradictory and inefficient PLCB policy of spending taxpayer dollars to advertise alcoholic beverages,” Bloom said.

In a somewhat related Senate memo, Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon County, plans to reintroduce his “Taxpayer-funded Advertising Transparency Act,” a bill that passed the Senate last session.

Folmer’s proposal would require all commonwealth agencies to note whenever tax monies are used for advertising. He wants to use the following statement: “Paid for with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars.”

This would pertain to television and radio advertisements, as well as print ads and billboards. Classified ads would be excluded.

“This legislation will help educate taxpayers on how their tax monies are being spent,” Folmer said. “It could also help reduce overhead costs for state programs as managers would be asking themselves if advertising with tax dollars is warranted.”

Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jasons@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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