Emrick: No Privatizing Liquor Stores
State Rep. Joe Emrick updates residents on privatizing liquor stores at legislative breakfast in Forks Township.
Will liquor stores be privatized?
The question came from a resident at State Rep. Joe Emrick's legislative breakfast in Forks Township last Friday.
Emrick's answer: No.
Emrick told residents that another push was made in the beginning of June to privatize Pennsylvania's state-owned liquor business, which employs nearly 5,000 workers.
"But it's dead unfortunately," he said.
Emrick said the privatization would have generated $1.3 billion, money that would have been earmarked for transportation and upgrading and repairing the state's roads and bridges.
But he said politics got in the way as some sniping went on among legislators who couldn't get their proposals passed and thus pulled support for privatization.
Union groups have argued that more than 4,500 jobs will be lost if the state system is privatized, but Republicans have countered by arguing that the 1,600 private sector stores will create additional opportunities for jobs — including union jobs.
Polls have consistently shown a majority of Pennsylvanians are in favor of privatizing the liquor system, but the state monopoly set up in the wake of Prohibition has remained stubborn despite numerous attempts to end it, including efforts by the past two Republican administrations in Harrisburg during the 1980s and 1990s.
Gov. Tom Corbett has supported the privatization plan since he took office in 2011.
Emrick said he did not know if, or when, the proposal would be addressed again.
"When will it be brought up, who knows?" he said. "I supported it wholeheartedly."