Selling ‘cash cow’ dumb

A recent opinion stated Pennsylvania should not be in the liquor business, and we would be better off if all the state-owned liquor stores be sold to the highest bidder.

The article went on to say that those currently employed by the PA Liquor Control Board should be thankful that they had a job for this long but now it’s time to get off the gravy train.

It also mentioned that all liquor store employees are overpaid because of union involvement.

While it is true that we are represented by a union, I assure you that the hourly wages paid are not out of line, and it’s public knowledge that a starting clerk earns $11.34 an hour and is a part-time employee.

To gain employment, one must also take and pass a state civil service test. We have many employees who have spent their entire adult lives working for the PLCB, and to say that it’s time to go stand in an unemployment line is ridiculous.

Before everyone jumps on the GOP bandwagon to sell off a very lucrative source of capital, please consider some facts:

— All tax money collected by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Broad (PLCB) as well as any revenue remaining after operating expenses and payments to other commonwealth agencies is transferred to the state treasury. This amounts to $500 million annually.

— The PLCB is the largest purchaser of wine and spirits in the United States, which means customers receive volume purchase discounts on every item purchased in the state stores.

— The PLCB operates approximately 625 stores, which are leased from private landlords, infusing over $40.5 million into the Pennsylvania economy.

— The PLCB also out-sources warehousing services for three distribution centers, which contributes another $35.8 million to the Pennsylvania economy.

— The PLCB has a “zero tolerance” policy for sales to minors and intoxicated individuals which results in over a million identification checks yearly. This policy and effective implementation are considered to be an excellent deterrent to underage drinking in Pennsylvania: There is no incentive to sell to minors.

The PLCB would be able to fund the governor’s proposal to put a billion dollars toward education in a four-year time frame, the money from the current system can accomplish that in just two years.

I fail to see why anyone would want to sell off a cash cow for a one-time infusion of money from selling liquor licenses. Before supporting selling off everything (lottery, prisons, turnpike and liquor stores) I urge Gov. Corbett to look at the result of the state of Washington’s Initiative 1183.

To quote a line from the Seattle Times, “Prices in Washington rose so high after privatization that the only ones benefiting are the liquor stores over the borders in Oregon and Idaho, where prices are much cheaper.”

Wayne A. Evans, Altoona