As Budget Deadline Looms, PA Lawmakers Look to Get Keystone State Out of the Booze Business
Pennsylvania taxpayers should keep an eye on the state capitol this week, as commonwealth legislators work to reach a final agreement on the new state budget. According to sources in the legislature, the House will vote on a budget as soon as today that would include a provision to end the state’s 80 year monopoly on alcohol wholesale and retail operations. Americans for Tax Reform applauds House members for including this commendable reform in their budget. This will generate $400 million for the commonwealth in a way that does not raise taxes on already heavily-burdened Pennsylvania taxpayers, who currently contend with the nation’s tenth highest state and local tax burden.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to close a $1 billion plus budget shortfall by next week’s budget deadline. However, Gov. Corbett indicated this week that he is prepared to go past the deadline if that is necessary to achieve needed pension reform and end the commonwealth’s archaic liquor monopoly. As ATR noted in a recent letter to Pennsylvania lawmakers, “There are numerous ways to balance the budget without resorting to tax hikes, but one of the best and most fiscally sound ways to work toward that goal is to get the state out of the liquor and wine business.” Ending the state liquor monopoly isn’t just good policy, it’s good politics, with recent polling finding widespread bipartisan support for liquor privatization.
ATR encourages the Pennsylvania Senate to follow the House’s lead in privatizing liquor and wine distribution and sales. The current state monopoly on the distribution and sales is clearly not a core function of government. It is amazing to have taken this long for even one legislative chamber to address it. If lawmakers in Harrisburg are able to balance the budget sans tax increases and get the state out of the liquor and wine business once and for all, members of the legislature will have a strong case to make to voters seeking fiscally responsible candidates in November who stand up for taxpayers.
Photo Credit: Joey Rozier