Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Just another round

A new study in sale of the State Store system is just another round in the ongoing fight over the issue and likely won't move it forward one inch.

Just another round

The long-awaited and probably purposely delayed Corbett administration study of the State Store system now is public and all I can say is count me in.

That's because this study, like all the studies before it over the past quarter-century of efforts to get the state out of the liquor business, is exactly like the powers that be saying to consumers, "Hey, ya want another round on the house?"

Of course we do.

The problem, though, is that while everybody's busy either serving stuff up or drinking it in, nothing, and I mean, nothing gets done.

I can picture legislative leaders telling the barkeep, "If my constitutents call, I'm not here."

The study, commissioned by Corbett and done by Public Financial Management Inc., says different things to different players. (Today's Inky has a full report.)

To House Republican Leader Mike Turzai, sponsor of the prime privatization bill, it says, "The PFM study reinforces what the vast majority of Pennsylvanians already know to be true -- government shouldn't be in the business of selling alcohol."

Makes one wonder why we did the study.

But to House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, a privatization opponent, it says, "The report confirms what we have said. Privatizing liquor sales in Pennsylvania does not raise enough money to make it worth giving up one of the state's most valuable assets." He adds the switch would cost thousands of store workers their jobs and pensions and mean higher prices for consumers.

Meanwhile, Senate GOP leaders remain cool to the plan. Senate President Joe Scarnati already said the state should keep control for now. And Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said, through a spokesman, he looks forward to reading the 300-page report.

Barkeep, leave the bottle.

Pennsylvania has a history of loving the status quo, whatever that might be in any given issue. This issue is but another example of how any big change proposed in the state either takes forever or never gets done. There is little evidence that this is going anywhere anytime soon.

Our legislators are like members of an inverted Alcoholics Anonymous, stuck in a pattern of addictive behavior: "Hi, my name is (fill in the blank), and I can't get anything done."

All this study provides is an excuse for another meeting. Grrrr. 

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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