Pennsylvanians continue to gain from the LCB

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The Post-Gazette cannot come to grips with the simple truth: the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board continues to deliver huge returns for every Pennsylvania taxpayer ("False Argument: Pennsylvania's Liquor Monopoly Is No Cash Cow," Aug. 7 editorial).

Despite the newspaper's privatization spin, most Pennsylvanians recognize that the PLCB should be modernized -- not dismantled to benefit a few big-chain retailers.

It's a given that taxes are a significant source of the revenue generated by the sale of wine and spirits. No one has tried to claim otherwise. What the Post-Gazette fails to mention is there is no slippage in collection of those taxes now, while there would be under privatization. And how does the Post-Gazette suggest we make up the record $128 million in profits the PLCB just generated? In any privatization scenario, the state would lose out on uncollected tax revenues and lost profits.

The paper claims that the sale of liquor licenses would help to make up for any lost tax revenues or profits, but fails to mention how the privateers have wildly exaggerated the value of these licenses. What started as a $2 billion to $6 billion projected windfall is now down to a one-time $800 million collected over four years. Within the next few years, the agency will generate more than $1 billion every year. Show me one CEO who would make that trade.

Lawmakers need to focus on modernizing this asset by allowing the PLCB to add more Sunday stores and more locations inside or adjacent to grocery stores. Consumers want more convenience and more choice and the PLCB should be allowed to give Pennsylvanians what they want.

ANTHONY M. HELFER
President
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23
Canonsburg


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