Pashinski votes against liquor privatization bill

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, today voted against the bill to privatize liquor sales, noting it would cost consumers and the state more and do little to help Pennsylvania’s current fiscal crisis.

Pashinski said the plan (H.B. 466) would result in higher prices with fewer selections and could require consumers to go from store to store to search the items they want.

"Supporters of this bill say that it’s more convenient to consumers, but with 30 different kinds of licenses, it becomes more confusing and less convenient," Pashinski said. "When you realize you may have to travel to several stores to find the wine or spirit you desire, you may end up shelling out more money for gas along with paying the higher price for the liquor, so it’s really financially inconvenient in the end."

Pashinski said the GOP-sponsored plan claims that privatizing the liquor stores would generate $1 billion in revenue for the state budget; however, only about $167 million of that would be available in the first year. In addition, the state would lose $80-100 million per year that liquor stores contribute to the state, as well as the transition costs estimated at $1.4 billion which would negate any real profit from the sale.

"As we deal with a budget deficit of more than $2 billion, privatizing the state’s wine and spirits shops would be fiscally irresponsible," Pashinski said. "We need to make sound decisions on ways to close the budget gap created over the last four years, and not rush to push through a faulty plan to sell a valuable asset."

In addition, Pashinski noted thousands of state store workers would lose their jobs and be forced onto unemployment.

"House Bill 466 does not work. You should never sell an asset that’s owned by the people of Pennsylvania that brings in tens of millions of dollars every year guaranteed, in good times and in bad," Pashinski said. "There must be public hearings to allow the people to fully understand what they’re losing."