House Republicans: Wolf Liquor Veto Chooses Special Interests, Taxes over Freedom, Progress
HARRISBURG – Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and many House Republican colleagues joined together today to condemn Gov. Tom Wolf for his veto of House Bill 466, the liquor privatization measure that would increase revenues for the state without raising taxes on Pennsylvania’s workers, families and businesses.

“Liquor privatization provides freedom and convenience for consumers, revenues for the state, an end to an inherent conflict of interest, a return of government to its core functions and a vital path to moving Pennsylvania into the 21st century,” said Turzai. “By vetoing this bill and denying a broad-based, bipartisan-supported measure, the governor has signaled clearly that his policies have very little to do with what the people want and everything to do with protecting a small segment of special interests.”

Wolf has continually campaigned for a government that works, though part of that scheme requires demanding more than $12 billion dollars in tax increases over the next two years, all placed on the backs of taxpayers.

The Republican House and Senate budget that didn’t raise taxes included the divestiture of the state’s Prohibition-era total monopoly over the wholesale and retail sale of both wine and spirits – one of only two states (Utah) to have such control over how its citizens consume the commodities, said Turzai.

“It is very disappointing that the governor is choosing taxes over new and recurring revenues which could be used for our schools and human services,” said House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana). “This historic legislation provided more than $220 million this year and recurring revenue without raising taxes. Our constituents are for selling the state stores; they do not support raising taxes for higher spending.”

“A government that works is continually evaluating and re-evaluating existing programs and spending to make sure all programs are achieving the intended results,” said House Appropriations Chairman William F. Adolph Jr. (R-Delaware). “We were able to balance this budget by adopting such efficiencies and generating new revenues by moving Pennsylvania into the present by privatizing our archaic liquor system and not by relying on the billions of dollars of tax increases the governor proposed in his budget.

Some of this new revenue would come from the ending of “border bleed” – the estimated $300 million worth of wine and spirits that Pennsylvanians purchase out of state each year.

“This bill provided three times more revenue for the state than the current system does and would create many new family-sustaining jobs throughout the Commonwealth.” said Liquor Control Committee Chairman Chris Ross (R-Chester).

The governor’s refusal to move Pennsylvania into the 21st century raises many questions.

“Our liquor system is a blue ribbon example of status quo policy and protecting special interests,” said Rep. Seth Grove (R-York). “With the veto of liquor privatization, Gov. Wolf is maintaining the status quo and protecting his special interest friends. Today is a sad day for those of us who fight for change in Harrisburg every day. Keeping the status quo is unacceptable and maintains a system which is failing Pennsylvanians."

According to the Department of State’s web site, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 1776, whose members work at the government’s total monopoly of more than 600 wine and spirits stores, contributed $180,000, including in-kind donations, directly to Wolf’s campaign. Its national affiliate contributed overall $394,930 in Political Action Committee funding to Pennsylvania state campaigns in the 2013-14 campaign cycle.

The governor has demanded modernization of the current system and status quo for the UFCW.

“The government has no business whatsoever selling liquor,” said Rep. Mike Regan (R-York/Cumberland). “This is for private enterprise, on which America was founded. It is frustrating that Gov. Wolf has decided to put the desires of special interests ahead of what Pennsylvanians want.”

“Modernization is tantamount to installing screen doors on submarines,” said Turzai. “It’s absurd to think government can run any business better than the private sector, and prolonging this antiquated practice is a slap in the face to consumers and taxpayers.”

“By its own convoluted design, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board inherently operates under a conflict of interest that designates the agency as both purveyor of promoting and selling alcohol, all while regulating and enforcing laws at the same time,” said House Majority Whip Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster).

“We had an historic opportunity to raise new revenue, not raise taxes on our families and to get rid of this insane conflict of interest that sees Pennsylvanians burning tax dollars on both sides of the market in order to maintain a state-run monopoly,” said Cutler. “This veto will be disappointing to Pennsylvanians from many differing political viewpoints.”

Pennsylvanians have overwhelming supported getting rid of the conflict, which clearly does not benefit them in choice, prices or convenience. According to an FM3 poll conducted on the issue, support transcended political affiliation, gender, region, and even union membership. It found that consumers who make purchases at the state stores most often favor change by more than 70 percent.

“Fully two-thirds of Pennsylvanians want to see wine and spirits sold in privately owned stores,” said Ross. “We will continue to keep working to give them what they want.”

“It is disappointing that Gov. Wolf is overlooking the will of the residents of this Commonwealth,” said Rep. Mike Reese (R-Somerset/Westmoreland). “He is standing with partisan ideologies rather than standing with the many Pennsylvanians who believe the retail sale of wine and spirits is not a core function of government.

“Furthermore, Gov. Wolf’s rhetoric for his veto cites reasons that have been refuted over and over again. It’s contemptuous that he feels he knows what is better for Pennsylvania’s citizens rather than act on what a majority of responsible adults prefer,” Reese added.

Representative Mike Turzai
The Speaker
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jay Ostrich / / @RepTurzai
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