Multiple rumors from House Republican leadership have caused speculation that Speaker Mike Turzai and Majority Leader Dave Reed have an agreement with Governor Tom Wolf on a liquor privatization plan.

To be plain and clear: This is blatantly false.

In fact, only two plans have been considered by the Administration. Governor Wolf has put forth a compromise plan that would allow for private management of the state's wholesale and retail liquor operations, and allow for increased revenues through this proposal.

Governor Wolf also supports modernization proposals introduced by Representative Gene DiGirolamo and Senator Jim Brewster that would maximize state revenues by increasing Sunday store locations, improving hours, allow for flexible pricing and allow for more Wine and Spirits stores to be located within or next to grocery stores.

These two positions have not changed.

In regards to privatization, the Governor's position remains the same after he vetoed reckless liquor privatization legislation.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 2, 2015: "'It makes bad business sense for the Commonwealth and consumers to sell off an asset, especially before maximizing its value,' Mr. Wolf said. 'During consideration of this legislation, it became abundantly clear that this plan would result in higher prices for consumers.'"

After vetoing privatization legislation and stating support for modernization, Governor Wolf gave House Republicans a compromise privatization bill that would allow for private management through a ten to twenty-five year lease of the wholesale and retail operations of the PLCB., September 16, 2015: "'We're not just giving this away to some crony of somebody,' said Wolf at a news conference in the Governor's Reception Room where he described the offer he made to legislative leaders. "He said the contract with the private manager would be for a term of between 10 and 25 years and give the manager free rein over the number and location of stores, expand hours to seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and flexibility in pricing."

And just this Monday, Wolf administration officials made it known again that Wolf was firm in support of his own liquor proposal.

Associated Press, November 9, 2015: "Wolf has stuck by his September counteroffer to hire a private manager to run the system, keeping state ownership, administration officials said. That clashes with the stance of House Republicans, who want the state to end its control of wholesale and retail wine and liquor operations and license private businesses to do it."

What you are hearing from House Republican Leadership is a falsehood from budget negotiations that start with Speaker Mike Turzai and House Majority Leader Dave Reed.

Governor Wolf has agreed to a placeholder financial number for next year's, not this year's, budget, which is upward of $200 million for Fiscal Year 2016-17. This placeholder is for Wolf's modernization and private management lease plan, not anything that comes close to privatization bills discussed by House Republicans for years and years.

House and Senate members should ask Speaker Turzai and Majority Leader Reed what exactly has been agreed to in budget negotiations.

How is the $200 million raised for next year's budget?

What does the Governor think of Speaker Turzai's proposal?

Why are we still discussing an issue during budget negotiations that has no fiscal impact on this year's budget?

The UFCW PA Wine and Spirits Council continues to support Governor Wolf's ideas of modernizing our state Wine and Spirits Stores through current modernization proposals or concepts to lease out private management of the wholesale and retail operations of the PLCB. The Governor continues to support these concepts, not any plan being touted by Speaker Mike Turzai or Majority Leader Dave Reed, and anything reported differently is just not true.

Let's get a real budget done and stop wasting more legislative days on liquor privatization bills that will not become law as a result of these negotiations.

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