Pa. liquor store privatization debate officially underway

    The state Senate hearing didn’t break much new ground on whether or not to privatize Pennsylvania’s state stores.

    A few Democrats voiced concern private stores wouldn’t screen for underage drinkers as vigorously as state employees do.

    But Leonard Gilroy of the libertarian Reason Foundation argued the opposite, pointing out that private owners will have just shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a license.

    “You’ve just paid for that, and you have the risk of losing it?  I would argue that, on balance, the profit and private sector incentives are going to align,” says Gilroy. “You’re not going to really want your employees there to be loose on those sort of things, and you certainly are not going to take that risk, because you have a ton of capital at play. Not only the license itself, but the whole business.”

    Witnesses also offered differing takes on whether or not a sell-off would lead to increased drinking, and whether the one-time revenue would be worth reduced future income.

    It’s not clear when a House or Senate committee will vote on a privatization bill.

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