Tomorrow marks 82 years since the official end of Prohibition. Yet, Pennsylvania is still dealing with its own version of Prohibition in the form of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The agency has complete control of both the wholesale and retail side of wine and liquor sales, and as you might expect, the results have been subpar.
Recognizing the liquor control board’s failures, the Republican-dominated General Assembly sent Governor Wolf legislation to privatize the government-run liquor system. The governor vetoed it, citing a number of weak excuses to justify an unpopular position. A couple of months later, Gov. Wolf offered his own “compromise” to break the budget impasse, which is now in month six.
But as my colleague Nate pointed out, the proposal was not true privatization. And it appears the governor has not moved from his anti-privatization stance since he vetoed the legislation back in July. Now there is talk of liquor ”modernization” as part of the deal to break the budget gridlock, but the ghosts of modernization’s past are well known. Modernization is still government-run booze. Voters should accept nothing less than real privatization as part of any budget deal.
For more on Pennsylvania’s risible liquor laws and why we need reform, have a listen to my interview with the Cato Institute’s Caleb Brown.