Gov. Tom Corbett has released his proposal to privatize liquor stores in Pennsylvania.
This is a sound idea coming out of the Corbett administration.
The state-controlled liquor system in Pennsylvania is antiquated and does not serve the state's taxpayers, who are also the consumers.
"I want a system that gives people greater flexibility and control over their purchases," said the governor.
This only makes sense.
There are certain services which governments should, and must, provide.
Highways, airports, street lighting, snow plowing and many more services make sense coming from the government. It takes a collective to provide services like these.
But when it comes to the sale of wine and liquor, the state has no business being the provider.
Private enterprise can better serve the residents of Pennsylvania when it comes to this issue. It works that way in almost all other states.
The governor has outlined a pretty comprehensive plan.
The plan would allow for twice as many wine and liquor stores that currently exist.
That in itself makes sense. Not only does it provide convenience, it also spurs competition, which is good for consumers. When there are competing businesses, the pencil sharpening happens, which benefits consumers.
The proposal would also allow big-box stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and drug stores to apply for licenses to sell beer and wine.
Existing beer distributors would have the option of applying for an "enhanced" license to sell wine as well as six-packs of beer instead of only cases. They could also apply for a wine and spirits license to add those products for sale.
Restaurants and bars, which currently have the option of selling six packs of beer, would be able to sell beer and up to six bottles of wine.
Corbett is also proposing to keep the 18 percent Johnstown flood tax on alcohol. That isn't a good part of the proposal, but you have to take what you can get in a compromise situation.
Opponents of the plan cite several reasons for not wanting change.
One is the fact that around 3,200 state employees would lose their jobs at liquor stores. But logic says many of them would likely be hired by private industry because they have experience. And with a doubling of liquor stores, more people would be able to get jobs, always a positive.
Others say having more stores will lead to more alcohol consumption. Many studies, however, indicate that isn't the case.
Let's face it, if someone wants to purchase and consume alcohol, they will find a way.
One issue which has not been raised in the discussion is the fact liquor stores would also be open more days a year.
Page 2 of 2 - Presently, the state stores are closed on holidays.
This is ludicrous. It's hard to imagine how much money is going out of the state on those holidays when people cross borders and make purchases. Stores need to be open as many hours as possible to provide more convenience for consumers.
The governor says the sale of the state system would bring in more than $1 billion. He's proposing using it for block grants for education.
The privatization of liquor stores has been discussed in Pennsylvania for decades.
So far, it hasn't happened.
This time, it needs to happen.
The matter will be handled by the General Assembly where anything can happen.
Last year, the House was poised to take action, however, the Senate didn't see it as a priority and the matter died.
It's time for the Senate to come to its senses and get this done once and for all.
The state of Pennsylvania needs to get out of the liquor business. Instead, the state needs to focus on regulating the business and enforcing the rules and laws related to alcohol consumption.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out during the legislative session.
Hopefully, lawmakers will come to their senses and do the right thing for the people of this state.