HARRISBURG, Mar. 22, 2011 – State Sens. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) and Jim Ferlo (D –Allegheny/Armstrong/Westmoreland) today commended the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, for its continued efforts to modernize its retail operation and its willingness to increase its contribution to the General Fund during these tough budget times.

“The PLCB is a significant resource for our state that, from an economic perspective, still has untapped potential,” said Hughes. “Allowing the PLCB to continue to modernize will generate substantial, additional annual revenue for the benefit of Pennsylvania.”

“In a year when the state is struggling for revenue, it remains unclear to me why the Corbett administration has asked the Liquor Control Board for $25 million less than in each of the previous two budget years,” Ferlo added. “It’s clear from our hearing today that the Board is able and willing to support the State General Fund at a higher level.”

Modernization of the PLCB would include initiatives that allow market based pricing, increase the percentage of Wine and Spirits stores that can be open on Sundays, and extend Sunday sale hours.
Currently, under the Liquor Code, the PLCB must apply its markup of 30 percent equally on all products. With market based pricing, the PLCB would be given flexibility to make pricing decisions in a way that maximizes profits, while still allowing the agency to offer consumer-friendly prices.

The Liquor Code also limits the number of Wine and Spirits shops that may be open on Sundays. Sunday is the second busiest retail day of the week. Increasing the number of stores that can be open on Sundays and expanding hours to meet demand will not only increase revenue but enhance the customer experience.

“These common sense PLCB initiatives, and others, are expected to generate $50 – $100 million dollars annually for the state,” said Hughes. “With Governor Corbett proposing egregious cuts to basic and higher education, the revenues produced modernizing the PLCB retail system are dollars that can be used to offset at least some of those misguided budget proposals.”
In addition, Ferlo pointed out that modernizing the current system can make the privatization debate irrelevant.

“The PLCB has even more opportunities to increase revenue and savings through statutory changes, further mooting calls for privatization,” Ferlo said. “We should do everything we can to improve this public asset rather than pursuing a wrong-headed privatization policy. The wine and spirits stores represent a common good for the Commonwealth.”

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