Pa. House GOP criticizes liquor sales earnings as price gouging

liquor store

(NewsWorks file photo)

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has posted this year’s earnings, and they’re higher than ever.

Despite overhead cost increases, the PLCB said the revenues are a sign the industry is healthy.

But House Republicans — who have long wanted to privatize liquor sales — said it just amounts to price gouging.

As lawmakers search under couch cushions for money to balance a stalled state budget, the PLCB’s been chipping in more and more cash. A record-setting $216 million last fiscal year was more than double the previous year’s contribution.

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It’s slated to pay a little less this year, but the number is still high.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said more income doesn’t necessarily mean general fund obligations will keep growing. But, she added, that’s probably possible.

“We have the capacity to continue growing sales,” she said.

The earnings increase is thanks to licensing fees and expansions that let the PLCB sell products more widely, among other things.

House Republicans — who want to totally privatize the industry — have said the revenues don’t mean the state-run program is working.

“They’re a monopoly,” House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said. “They’re the only game in town. So they’re boasting record sales? Of course they’re going to have record sales. They just raised rates on their monopoly consumers.”

He acknowledged last month’s price hike isn’t responsible for last fiscal year’s high revenues.

Miskin said liquor sales are still part of ongoing budget talks, but couldn’t specify the extent.

Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked House privatization efforts, saying they could actually lose the state money.

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