The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports privatizing the state’s liquor stores may be on the agenda in 2014, thanks to a $1.4 billion budget deficit. “There are plenty of other options, legalizing more gambling such as keno and pension reform among them. Full Medicaid expansion is another possibility. But selling the state stores long has been a popular notion with most Pennsylvanians (though, in fairness to the opposition, it’s not a burning issue). That said, the dynamics of state store privatization could change shortly.”
A fiscal argument against it is that it’s no instant jackpot; it would take months, even a year or more, to set up the sale of new liquor licenses and close state-owned stores. A political argument against it is the complication of a powerful union with a lot of money and a lot of clout — the United Food and Commercial Workers — battling it at every turn.
Avoiding a state tax hike is what puts liquor store divestiture in play. Cutting education and welfare, the usual suspects, is likely off the table with Corbett running for re-election.
It’s not worked any other year. Will this finally be it?