Correction appended: Feb. 7, 2013.
Gov. Tom Corbett announced Wednesday a plan to privatize Pennsylvania’s liquor stores, as well as extend licenses to sell alcohol to big box stores, grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores, Eric Shirk, deputy director of communications and press for Corbett’s office, said.
“The governor believes that the state shouldn’t be in the business of selling alcohol,” Shirk said. “It’s a conflict of interest because we regulate it and sell it.”
Shirk said that convenience for consumers is also a major factor in the plan’s proposal.
According to an official executive summary of the plan, grocery stores would be allowed to sell up to six bottles of wine and a 12-pack of beer to customers. Big box stores, like Walmart, could sell up to six bottles of wine and cases of beer, according to the summary. Convenience stores could sell up to a six-pack of beer, but could not sell wine. Distilled spirits would only be sold in liquor stores, according to the summary.
If passed, the plan is expected to raise $1 billion over the next four years, which would be put into the public education system — meaning schools that serve kindergarten through 12th grade — through a grant allowing schools to choose how to use the money, Shirk said.
The distribution of the grant will be based on a formula where a school’s enrollment, population and wealth are factors, according to the summary.
The summary also says the plan proposes to increase the number of liquor stores from 600 to 1,200 through a “competitive auction process” that will vary by county.
“We know this is a system that works — 48 other states do this,” Shirk said.
The plan also contains increased enforcement of liquor laws and public safety measures, including greater fines for selling alcohol to minors and a liquor license suspension for repeated offenses.
“It’s a gift and a curse,” Penn State student Rodman Crump said.
Crump (junior-toxicology) said the plan would be more convenient, allowing one to buy alcohol while grocery shopping or after liquor stores close. Because of that, it also might have a greater chance of abuse, Crump said.
“It’s a rational plan, but there will always be other variables with people and alcohol, Crump said.
Rock Shadduck also said that it would be convenient and would be good for businesses newly eligible for alcohol licenses, but doubts it would affect underage drinking and related incidents.
“Just because you’re selling it in Walmart, nothing much would really change,” Shadduck (junior-biobehavioral health) said. “It’s the same thing, you’re just selling it in a different place.”
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the increased number of liquor stores included in a proposal by Gov. Tom Corbett. Under Corbett’s proposal, the number of liquor stores could increase to 1,200. The above article reflects the correct information. The Daily Collegian apologizes for this error.