Under the Hat: Taking a Shot - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Under the Hat: Taking a Shot

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Governor Tom Corbett is taking a shot at selling the state's monopoly on wine and spirits.

He goes boldly where others have failed completely, including former Republican governors Dick Thornburgh and Tom Ridge.

Corbett says the idea of the state holding the monopoly might have been a good one when it started, which was during prohibition.

Today he argues that people want the convenience, choice and more competitive pricing that a private system can generate.

Critics have two major concerns; the loss of money to taxpayers and the loss of good paying state jobs.

As many as five thousand staff members, supervisors and administrators could be out of work if the plan goes through and stocking shelves for a company simply can't pay the wages and benefits State Store employees enjoy. There's no getting around that.

But the concern over the loss of taxpayer money is more overblown; our investigation showed that the vast majority of the system's 2.1 billion dollars in revenue goes back out in expenses to buy and transport the alcohol and pay for staff and building costs.

The system does generate 425 million state tax dollars, but those would still have to be paid by private vendors.

There is about 110 million dollars in profit that goes either back into the general fund or to state police for DUI enforcement.

Corbett says tweaking the fee structure for licenses can make up that shortfall.

Some call it protectionism for the state to overpay workers well beyond what the open market would bear.

Some argue that we can ill afford to lose that many good paying jobs especially when the system pays for itself.

The fight now is among state lawmakers. Maybe you should take a shot, and give yours a call.

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