The Booze Business is a Lose Business for Taxpayers

I heard on the radio this week another ridiculous ad against allowing retail stores to sell wine or liquor, funded by UFCW dues to play on stations across the state.

Today’s myth/lie that deserves busting is the idea that the state-run liquor stores “generate $500 million a year for the state budget and all taxpayers.”

They don’t! State liquor stores collect $500 million from taxpayers and consumers. More than 80 percent of that money is generated directly from taxes on buyers—both alcohol taxes and sales taxes. The rest comes from the standard “markup” the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), the government monopoly retailer, puts on every bottle they sell.

The PLCB wants you to believe that without them, this revenue dries up. Truth is: Privately-owned liquor stores would collect taxes just the same.

Moreover, the PLCB is losing money. The newest financial report confirms that government in the booze business is a lose business. The PLCB ended the 2011 fiscal year with negative $31 million in net assets, having lost $23 million in 2010-11, and $54 million in 2009-10.

Guess who’s responsible for paying off those debts? Remember once again, every dollar the PLCB generates is money taken from consumers and taxpayers.

For more on the failure of government-run liquor stores, visit And for more on how the UFCW uses government-collected union dues for political action and to enrich union bosses, check out our policy report The Squeeze.