February 13, 2013

The myth of privatization: wrong for Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to privatize state liquor stores and use that one-time revenue for the public schools is just another part of his plan to use students as bargaining chips to push his political agenda.

“We have students crammed into classrooms with large class sizes, struggling to get individual attention. Critical programs have been cut," said PSEA President Mike Crossey. They are being forced to pay for extracurricular activities. And now the governor’s solution is to make their educational opportunities dependent on a liquor sell-off. ”

Public school students need sustainable, long-term state funding - not short-term gimmicks. Legislators need to restore Gov. Corbett's nearly $1 billion in public school funding with an adequate and sustainable funding plan, not with money that doesn't exist, and may never exist.

“PSEA is willing to work with legislators of both parties in the General Assembly to craft a long-term funding plan that is fair to taxpayers and provides students with the kind of quality education they deserve,” added Crossey. "Students shouldn’t have to count on liquor being available on every corner in order to have properly funded schools."

An attack on working families
Pennsylvania's liquor stores bring in more than $500  million each year, through taxes and profits, which support state programs.

If Gov. Corbett is successful, the state will give up this annual source of revenue for a one-time sale of liquor licenses, and create a private system that would require more taxpayer dollars to collect unpaid taxes.

Nearly 5,000 men and women work in state liquor stores, which provide family-sustaining jobs and benefits. Privatization would eliminate these career opportunities, replacing them with low-wage jobs and no benefits.

“It [the state system] continues to make money every year. It's a system that pays for itself. It has no debt,” said Wendell Young IV, president of the UFCW 1776, which represents state liquor store employees. "The governor is willing to throw 5,000 people out of work."

Threats to public safety
In addition to concerns regarding public education funding, jobs, and state revenue, the governor's plan to privatize state liquor stores has potentially dire implications for the safety of our communities.

In April 2012 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Task Force on Community Preventive Services found that privatization leads to increased consumption and increased excessive consumption. The CDC recommended against any further privatization of alcohol sales.

Privatizing liquor stores could lead to an increase in drinking by minors, drunk driving, and social problems linked to alcohol abuse - including crime, domestic violence and child social problems linked to alcohol abuse - including crime, domestic violence and child abuse.

Pennsylvania currently has the nation's seventh lowest rate of underage drinking and binge drinking among high school students. Groups such as Students Against Drunk Driving, the PA DUI Association, the NAACP and other organizations concerned with excessive and underage alcohol consumption all oppose privatization.

Learn more
Visit the United Food and Commercial Workers' website for more information.




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