Roxbury News has posted a video of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board CEO Joe Conti calling for “civility” from critics of the PLCB. Mr. Conti claims that without the PLCB selling liquor, taxpayers will suffer. He says,
If we [the PLCB] disappear, your income tax has to go from 3.07 percent to 3.21 percent.
At the risk of incivility, let me be clear: That statement is patently false.
Mr. Conti (who once co-sponsored legislation to privatize state-run liquor stores, but says he doesn’t know how his name got on that bill), is repeating the debunked myth that the PLCB generates $500 million for the state’s General Fund.
Flaw #1: Almost all of this money is in taxes the PLCB collects from customers. These taxes will still be collected by private stores. The rest (transfers from the PLCB) is an extra cost imposed on consumers—effectively an embedded tax on the price of product. Rep. Turzai’s HB 11 would generate the same revenue from a proposed gallonage tax.
Flaw #2: Every dollar the PLCB collects is from consumers and taxpayers. The PLCB does not print money, nor is it mining for gold—it is taking dollars away from Pennsylvania consumers. Some of this is for the cost of products, but a great deal of it is in taxes and in the additional price charged to consumers for PLCB operations. That is, state stores are a cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers.
If Mr. Conti recognized that, he would realize that the failed wine kiosk program cost taxpayers millions of dollars, rather than brush it aside by saying, “any modern retailer has to try new things.” He should recognize that allowing a $23 million contract for a failed database to balloon to $66 million imposes new costs on consumers and taxpayers. Mr. Conti and the PLCB are wasting taxpayer dollars.
To get back to the question of civility: We’ll try to be more civil if Mr. Conti tries to be more honest.