Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and his allies in the state legislature are proposing a plan to privatize the state’s 600 Wine & Spirits stores.
The Governor claims this plan will generate funds that can be used toward education, which we take with a grain of salt since he has cut billions from education during his tenure.
The truth is, this is just the latest in Gov. Corbett’s longstanding pattern of cutting or privatizing anything in the Keystone State that isn’t nailed down.
Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits stores, run by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), generate nearly $500 million every year for the state treasury. These funds are used to pay for education and other public services. The stores also account for about 5,000 family-sustaining jobs, many of them union.
Gov. Corbett says “getting the state completely out of the liquor business” and instead auctioning off up to 1,200 liquor licenses to individual stores could generate $1 billion over the next four years, to be used toward “the education of our children.” We don’t believe that for a second, and here’s why:
In the past two years Gov. Corbett has shown apathy or downright hostility towards the education of Pennsylvania children: starting with his first budget that cut state education funding by $1.1 billion, so deep that teachers in the cash-strapped Chester Upland School District famously worked for no pay. On top of that, he has made giant cuts in funding for state colleges, reduced funding for early childhood education, abandoned “costing-out” studies that are used ensure poorer school districts get adequate funding, and trumpeted privately-run charter schools at every turn. One columnist called it “bombing public education back to the stone age.”
It’s also worth noting that Vahan Gureghian, owner of one of the state’s largest charter schools, is a huge Corbett campaign donor.
So no, we don’t believe Gov. Corbett when he says this privatization plan is about the education of our children.
More likely, he is interested in generating revenue for private liquor companies, shrinking the available funds the state treasury (to give him an excuse for the next round of cuts), dismantling the PLCB, and busting up the union that advocates for thousands of Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits employees.
That he is doing so while claiming to care about educating our children is nauseatingly cynical – preying on the insecurities of Pennsylvania parents and teachers to sneak through a plan that benefits private corporations.
Put another way, it’s classic Tom Corbett.