In wake of Gov. Corbett's failed midnight raid on the lottery, lawmakers should focus their energies on improving valuable public assets that deliver for all Pennsylvanians, including the PA Wine & Spirits Shops and the lottery, said Wendell W. Young IV, Chair of the United Food and Commercial Workers of PA Wine & Spirits Council.

"The citizens of our Commonwealth own some valuable public assets that benefit all Pennsylvanians, and it's time to focus on improving the lottery and modernizing the PA Wine & Spirits shops. Taxpayers expect and deserve more than political games and ideology," Young said. "Privatization of these assets is nothing but a giveaway for Gov. Corbett's corporate friends."

Young, President of UFCW Local 1776, added, "One of the problems with Corbett's lottery scheme was that it was done in the dark without public hearings.  We call on the House Liquor Control Committee and the Senate Law and Justice Committee to hold hearings across our Commonwealth before acting on any legislation."

Young noted that the lottery could generate nearly $800 million more in revenue in the next six years under current management by public employees.  AFSCME Council 13 has provided the Corbett administration with a blueprint for expanding the lottery that could be implemented immediately.

Similarly, lawmakers in both parties support a series of common-sense proposals to modernize the PA Wine & Spirits shops.  Combined, these proposals could generate at least $75 million to $100 million more in annual state revenue.  These proposals include expanded Sunday sales; direct shipment of wine to consumers' homes; allowing the sale of lottery tickets in the stores; and opening more stores.

"If you look at the historical growth of the contribution to the state, the total return to the taxpayers will be $1 billion a year within 10 years with these changes.  It makes no sense to walk away from that type of investment for a one-time payoff as Gov. Corbett proposes," Young said.

Young urged lawmakers to remember three key facts as they consider the future of the PA Wine & Spirits shops:

  • Pennsylvania ranks among the top of all states in terms of revenue generated per gallon of wine and spirits sold.
  • Pennsylvania ranks among the lowest of all states in per-capita consumption of wine and spirits.
  • Pennsylvania ranks the absolute lowest among all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the rate of deaths due to alcohol-related diseases.

"The lottery pumps $1 billion into life-saving programs for our seniors, but we know it can do more.  Our shops generate more than $500 million in taxes and profit for the state's general fund and, again, we know it can do more," Young said.  "This is a no-brainer.  There's a reason why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has found that privatization of retail alcohol sales is bad public policy."

He added: "Our state treasury is stronger because of our Wine & Spirits shops. Our communities are stronger, as well.  We have an opportunity to work together to improve both of these assets, and it's time for Gov. Corbett to put right-wing ideology aside and work with lawmakers for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians."

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