Not Helping: Liquor Prices Going Up
Not sure what the committee overseeing a potential privatization of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control is up to (”trust exercises” perhaps?), but in the meantime the PLCB has enacted a new policy that changes the “bottle handling fee” and will have you paying more for a bottle of cheap wine in no time! Or, you know, August.
Fun Fact: “Bottle-handling fee” is a thing. And it’s about to become more tax-ish.
According to PA Independent, the Board will do away with their current fee system (which is one of four taxes the state applies to alcohol; others include the state 30 percent markup, 18 percent Johnstown Flood Tax and 6 percent sales tax) which assesses fees at a fixed rate and will switch to a “percentage-based system.”
Therefore, you buy a bigger bottle of alcohol, you’re paying a bigger handling fee on top of the original, bigger price, making it sound all the more better to hit up Delaware — where they don’t call it a “state store” — for your liver-rotting kicks. And the wine industry has already responded by saying this whole thing is going to end badly. “When we’re faced with increased local taxes and fees, we have to respond and pass the cost onto consumers, unfortunately,” Cofer Bierne of the Wine Institute told the State Senate Law and Justice Committee. And things are already a bit rough:
According to a recent report from state Treasurer Rob McCord comparing Pennsylvania with its neighbors, the Keystone State generates $99 per gallon of wine sold, which is $47 more than West Virginia, the neighboring state with the second highest total. In terms of revenue per gallon of spirits sold, Pennsylvania ($58 per gallon) is second only to Ohio ($69 per gallon), but remains well ahead of third place New York ($46 per gallon).
Meanwhile, the unions are pissed off with the PLCB’s compromises on the issues, specifically the “Alternative to Privatization” plan written by Chairman PJ Stapleton, saying in a press release from the Independent State Store Union, “The PLCB/industry makes a mockery of the control system for the common good when encouraging and incentivizing people with alcohol problems to buy more and drink more. This system is meant to protect drinkers and non-drinkers alike and their communities; not exploit them.” Modernization would include flexible pricing and longer hours “so the PLCB can operate more like a private business.”
And through all the rhetoric no one’s introduced so much as a dog/pony show bill, that would privatize during this session. No doubt we and consumers alike want to see the side of the unions and workers, but it gets tough when prices continue going up as a result of governmental policy changes.