This week, we received the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's semi-secret alternative to liquor store privatization given to legislators-a scheme to preserve its power. This proposal goes beyond the typical PLCB's stunts, such as trying to make wine more convenient by having Pennsylvanians blow into a tube at wine kiosks.
"Alternatives to Privatization" is a blatant attempt to retain power, continue cronyism, increase state debt and charge consumers more.
- More Debt. The PLCB wants to issue $1 billion in new revenue bonds and then use PLCB profits to pay off the bonds for the next 20 or 30 years-a payment of $80 million per year. Sounds just like the Turnpike Commission's plan to borrow more while raising tolls and then tolling I-80, and we know how that turned out.
- Cronyism. The PLCB wants to be exempt from both state Civil Service Act (governing who they can hire) and the Procurement Code (removing any oversight of PLCB contracts).
- Higher Fees. The PLCB recommends doubling liquor licensing fees for restaurants, golf clubs, bars, hotels, and other private businesses and would also increase fines.
- Imitate the Private Sector. The report acknowledges the problems of the current monopoly system and recommends market based pricing, allowing more wine kiosks to remain open on Sundays, permitting the PLCB to set benefits for workers outside of the state benefit plans, enabling compensation flexibility, selling lottery tickets in state stores and issuing coupons for customers.
In other words, the alternative to privatizing liquor stores is to make state stores function like private stores. Sounds like a good argument for privatization.