State Senate Says Private Booze Sales Are a Low Priority

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Pour one out for privatization

It looks like the fight to privatize the sale of booze in the Keystone State is about to hit a brick wall. Despite Governor Tom Corbett and State House Republicans pushing through a bill back in March to auction off liquor licenses and gradually phase out state owned liquor stores — the furthest any privatization effort’s ever gotten — the state’s Senate appears to have its priorities set a little higher than getting Pennsylvania out of the business of selling alcohol. According to the Associated Press, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati took a shot at Corbett yesterday, mocking the Governor for “fixating” on the privatization issue while other, more pressing matters — namely the state budget — continue to get overlooked.

“Everybody wants to talk about liquor and that’s fine, we can talk about liquor,” Scarnati is quoted saying. “But my point is, let’s not forget we have a budget.”

While Corbett and State House Republicans continue to dawdle and grandstand over privatization and the bill they passed in March, Pennsylvania's tax collections and revenues are dwindling, and no plans have been presented to offset the shortfall. Scarnati says a proposed spending plan for the 2013-14 fiscal year must be submitted and approved before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The State’s constitution mandates it. And although Senators will hear arguments today from law enforcement and drug and alcohol service providers on the subject, it’s doubtful any progress will be made until after a proper budget is submitted and approved.

Scarnati urges focus to expand beyond liquor plans
[AP]