Cheers to Gov. Corbett
Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled a plan to close Pennsylvania’s state-owned liquor stores and replace them with private outlets, as well as to allow grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and big box stores to sell beer by the case, wine and liquor. Beer distributors would not be limited to just the sale of beer by the case; with an enhanced license they would be able to sell beer in smaller quantities, as well as liquor and wine.
The ambitious plan projects some $575 million in revenue from selling wholesale liquor licenses, and on top of that, another $224 million from auctioning 1,200 wine and liquor licenses. Gov. Corbett has predicted that the plan will create $1 billion in revenue over the course of the next four years – and he plans to use that revenue for public schools to fund various programs.
This is perhaps the first inkling that we are seeing that Gov. Corbett does care about education. Of course, his plan has met with a lot of criticism, including opposition from employee unions that represent those working at the state-owned stores and the employees themselves, who will lose their jobs with the stores closures. Other critics of the proposal are concerned that it will put current beer distributors out of business and the fact that sales of alcohol will provide the much-needed funding.
Pennsylvania is one of the few remaining states with such an antiquated system when it comes to the selling of alcohol. Recent years have seen select liquor stores open for limited hours on Sundays, as well as bars who sell food to be able to be open on Sundays. Some grocery stores even offer beer by the bottle for sale in their cafes. But, it is simply not enough.
Contrary to what some believe, the Governor is not aiming to turn the state of Pennsylvania into a giant frat party. Merely, he is offering more convenience, availability, and selection – let’s face it, not everyone needs to purchase 24-30 beers at once. And how many holidays have we realized moments too late that we forgot to pick up a bottle of wine?
Gov. Corbett is looking to the future, he is looking to what works in a large number of states already. And the fact that he is planning on funneling the profits from the change back into education, something that he has cut multiple times since taking office, is the icing on the cake. Remember, it is 2013, not 1953.