The state Liquor Control Board is having a good summer so far: not only has it survived yet another effort to privatize it, but on Monday reported what it called record profits.
The LCB said in a statement that its 600-plus state-run stores - which are gradually being renamed as Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores - generated about $2.2 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year. That amounted to a 4.5 increase over the previous year, which the board called a record.
Of that $2.2 billion, about $512 million was returned to the state treasury, including a cool $80 million transferred to state's general fund (commonly known as "the budget").
The LCB also reported a net income of $128.4 million for the fiscal year - a 24 percent increase over the previous one.
Some groups that support privatizing the agency, however, argued that those numbers are no reason to celebrate and only tell half the story.
The Commonwealth Foundation, a Harrisburg-based free market think tank, noted that more than 80 percent of the LCB's $500 million-plus in profits generated last fiscal year came from taxes - and argued that privately-owned liquor stores would produce the same, if not more, revenue, since they would be paying licensing fees and additional taxes.
"No matter how the [LCB] spins the numbers," the Commonwealth Foundation's statement reads, "the government-run liquor system is not a cash cow for the state."
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