Washington State Auction Should End Privatization Debate

PA Lawmakers Need to Modernize Valuable Asset Says UFCW Local 1776

Apr 30, 2012, 15:09 ET from UFCW Local 1776

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- An auction of liquor licenses in Washington State makes it clear that Pennsylvania lawmakers should reject – once and for all – House GOP Leader Mike Turzai's reckless scheme to dismantle the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).

Earlier this week Washington State officials auctioned off 167 licenses for a total of $30.75 million, an average of $184,000 per license, according to media accounts.

By comparison, Turzai has said repeatedly that an auction of 1,250 Pennsylvania licenses would generate $2 billion – which works out to more than $1.6 million per license – or nine times what Washington State's auction generated this week.

Looking at the same dismal math the other way, if Pennsylvania were to go down the same path as Washington, the state would realize $230 million for an auction of 1,250 licenses – less than half of what the current system generates in a single year.

"Mike Turzai has been telling his colleagues for two years that an auction in Pennsylvania would generate anywhere from $2 billion to $6 billion. Just do the math and you'll see that it's a fantasy," said Wendell W. Young IV, President, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 and Chairman, UFCW PA Wine and Spirits Council.

"Licenses just do not sell for that amount anywhere in the country – not in any of our neighboring states or in Washington," Young said.

Young noted that the PLCB generates $530 million a year in taxes and revenue for the state's general fund, employs 5,000 Pennsylvanians in family sustaining jobs and helps to keep every community in Pennsylvania safer.

UFCW is working with lawmakers in both chambers – and on both sides of the aisle – to modernize the PLCB. Senate Bill 1287 would allow the PLCB to operate more like the retail and wholesale business that it is. The bill provides flexibility in pricing, procurement and personnel.

"This is common sense legislation that would help the PLCB generate at least $70 million in new revenues for the state. Mike Turzai needs to recognize that it is time to move on and strengthen this valuable asset," Young said.

Turzai's colleagues have already rejected two of his schemes to privatize, most recently when members of the House Liquor Control Committee gutted his bill before sending a completely rewritten version to the House floor.

"Turzai's plan is irresponsible and unreliable. This discussion should end now. It is time to modernize the PLCB," Young said.

For more information, please visit www.ufcwpawineandspiritscouncil.com.

SOURCE UFCW Local 1776