Pa. liquor-privatization plans in flux

    The Pennsylvania House Republicans still hope to pass a liquor-privatization plan in their chamber by early April.But it may not look like the governor’s original proposal to sell off the state’s more than 600 liquor stores.

    State Sen. Anthony Williams says it’s clear to him that Republicans are not united around Gov. Tom Corbett’s liquor-privatization plan.

    Members on both sides of the aisle have said they are concerned about using the money generated from the sale of state wine and spirits stores for one-time grants for schools, says Williams, D-Philadelphia.

    “If privatization’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” he said Monday. “But it won’t happen at the expense or the expansion of how we fund public education in Pennsylvania.”

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    Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa says he’s heard “rumblings” that members of the House also are talking about trying to stymie the passage of a transportation funding package, unless a liquor-privatization plan gets through both chambers.

    “That’s what I’ve heard. I’ve heard that there may be a desire to not do one unless the other gets done,” said Costa, D-Allegheny.

    But House Appropriations Committee chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, says his caucus hasn’t met to discuss leveraging a transportation-funding bill to secure liquor privatization.

    A spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, who is sponsoring a bill to sell off the state’s liquor stores,  says he’s also unaware of any plan to link the fate of liquor stores to the fate of transportation infrastructure.

    And the GOP chair of a key committee is set to propose changes next week to the privatization plan that would keep the state stores without raising quite as much money for education grants.

    Meanwhile, Gov. Tom Corbett says he’s open to the idea of a plan that privatizes the sale of liquor and wine without getting rid of the state stores.

    “I would be foolish to say no at this point in time, wouldn’t I?” he said.

    Corbett adds when it comes to ordering up legislation, he’s learned to keep his options open.

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