By Eric Boehm | PA Independent
CAMP HILL, Pa. – Gov. Tom Corbett said Friday he wants the state Senate to pass a liquor privatization bill before the end of June and reaffirmed that he wants the proceeds from the sale of the state-owned wine and spirit stores to go to school districts.
Addressing a crowd of conservative activists at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in this suburb of Harrisburg, Corbett asked if there were any state Senators in the crowd and delivered a straightforward request.
The state House passed a liquor privatization bill in March, without the support of a single Democratic member. The fate of the privatization bill in the state Senate likely hinges on the votes of a handful of Republicans – the GOP holds a narrow 27-23 edge in the chamber – mostly in the southeastern part of the state.
Should privatization be successful, it is expected to produce a one-time windfall of $800 million for the state from the sale of licenses to private businesses.
Though some Republicans this week said those dollars should be used to help rebuild roads and bridges, Corbett made it clear on Friday that he wants to use those dollars to create a new block grant for school districts, as he initially proposed in January. Those block grants could be used to improve school safety and boost math and science education programs.
Corbett’s appearance at the event was a brief one, perhaps due to the fact that he was just back from a two week trade mission to South America, where he met with government officials and business leaders in Brazil and Chile.
He worked the crowd for about 10 minutes before the dinner began, spoke for about 15 minutes and left the room before the next speaker – former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. – began his remarks.
Boehm can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.