It was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped in the latest chapter of the ongoing liquor store privatization saga. Last week Governor Tom Corbett unveiled his bold vision for unloading the state’s 600-plus Wine & Spirits Shops, touting that sales of liquor licenses to private enterprises would generate as much as $1 billion that he pledged would go to Pennsylvania’s embattled and grossly underfunded public schools. Now education advocates are getting their say, and what they are saying is, the plan just doesn’t add up.
Just as critics of similar privatization efforts put forth in years past argued, the sell-off will most certainly create a windfall for state coffers, but it will be a one-shot deal. According to the Inky, some are criticizing the plan, saying it won’t bring much to schools, which are still struggling with Corbett’s $1 billion budget cuts from two years ago. Especially after factoring in inflation.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association and the Pennsylvania American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are calling bullshit on the plan. “A fire sale of liquor licenses and defunding school and state employees pensions are no way to finance world-class schools and college,” AFT vice president for Pennsylvania Rosemary Boland was quoted saying. Educators like Jenkintown School District’s superintendent, Timothy Wade, say they need more than a simple quick fix. They want more stable funding sources that they can plan future budgets with. Or as Philadelphia’s school chief William R. Hite Jr. puts it, even with an increase in funding from liquor license sales, the school district’s “financial reality remains bleak.”