In Philadelphia, Gov. Corbett touts ‘convenience’ of private liquor stores

Since whispering began about Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s plans to privatize Pennsylvania’s state liquor stores, expectations have risen. The governor has been adamant about privatization – from the lottery to possibly some transportation infrastructure.

The word is out on the street, where customers passed in and out of a state-owned liquor store on a busy block of downtown Philadelphia.

Scott Plune has picked up a bottle of gin. He’s from Louisiana, and not a fan of Pennsylvania current liquor laws.

“It just seems kind of Puritanical, you know the Puritanical ethic that William Penn had and the Quakers and all that just keep us more restrictive in our liquor. I think it should be available in grocery stores and everywhere.”

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Presenting his plan in Philadelphia at a press conference Thursday, the governor talked about giving consumers choices.

Right now, Pennsylvanians can’t buy liquor and beer in the same place. Corbett read the text of a sign from nearby Reading Terminal Market.

“‘Welcome visitors – sorry no beer, we sell only wines and spirits. Beer is sold 4 lights up on 12th and walnut street.’ Does that speak to what we were talking about with consumer choice and consumer convenience?” the governor asked.

He got laughs. Corbett said the lack of that choice and convenience – not lower costs – is what has driven Pennsylvanians to shop for alcohol in New Jersey and Delaware.

He declined to elaborate on how his team arrived at 1,200 for the number of licenses it will auction off, saying only that it was the product of “debate.”

Right now there are about 600 state stores. His staff said keeping a lid on the number of licenses, the state will make more money auctioning them off.

Per the governor’s proposal, the revenues would be divided among the state’s public schools, with an emphasis on school safety programs and math and science education.

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