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Lt. gov. touts liquor privatization in Exeter; some still not sold on plan

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 14 2013 03:56:53 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 14 2013 04:56:53 PM CST

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's fight to sell the state liquor system was front and center Thursday in Berks County.

EXETER TWP., Pa. -

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's fight to sell the state liquor system was front and center Thursday in Berks County.   

Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley visited the Giant Food Store in Exeter Township to drum up support for the plan, and talk about the benefits of privatizing.

"Providing greater convenience, greater selection and competitive prices when it comes to the sale of wine and spirits and beer in this state," said Cawley. "It's time for Pennsylvania to enter the 21st century."

Minutes after Cawley's arrival, two Mount Penn residents lined up behind him armed with "NO" signs. After a tour of the store, Cawley approached the two peaceful protesters to try and sell the governor's plan.

"You're holding hostage education for your privatization scheme," said Ron Stouffer, who does not want the state to get out of the liquor business.

"Not at all sir. I've already explained how you're wrong. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree," stated Cawley.

"It doesn't change the fact that small businesses are going to be severely hurt, and many of them will go out of business with this scheme," said Rosie Skomitz, who is also against the plan.

Going out of business is what Scott Szymanski is fearing. He owns, "Rolling Spirits," a delivery service that drops off alcohol to area bars and restaurants. He started his business in 2010 and now has more than 30 clients from Harrisburg to Lancaster. If the state stores go under, he said so will his livelihood.

"It pretty much throws a wrench in the spokes for my business," said Szymanski.

Cawley argued 1,200 liquor licenses will be auctioned off, and many businesses could be a one stop shop for liquor. 

"We're going to continue to look at ways to make sure they are not hurt but enhanced in this process," said Cawley.

According to Corbett's plan, the money raised will be pumped into education.