(The Center Square)– Pennsylvanians are set to pay more for liquor and wine in 2023, and a minimum of one Republican legislator is crying nasty.
Given that the state owns approximately 600 Great Wine & & Good Spirits stores, setting rates is the obligation of the Pennsylvania Alcohol Control Panel (PLCB). In a Jan. 5 letter shared with The Center Square, the board signaled providers to a prepared 4% cost boost.
Shawn Kelly, a PLCB spokesperson, highlighted that the cost hike is not a tax and the board does not have legal authority to raise or lower alcohol taxes.
Rather, the change was “authorized administratively,” Kelly kept in mind, and was not on the PLCB’s conference agenda Wednesday.
The choice, according to the PLCB, was driven by “economic needs associated with a 40-year high inflation rate impacting manufacturers and merchants around the world.”
In the letter, the board said the boost will impact more than 3,500 of the “most popular items, a fair and constant, across-the-board boost starting Jan. 15. The cash from the price increase is anticipated to offset labor and circulation costs, in addition to leases and credit card fees.
“Regardless of facing pandemic- and inflation-related cost increases for a number of years, the PLCB has actually resisted raising Fine Wine & & Good Spirits retail prices, beyond passing along supplier expense increases to consumers, given that 2019,” the letter said.
“This is a market price boost just as you would see in any merchant,” Kelly stated. “For us to execute a rate increase is a fairly unusual occurrence.”
The increase is likewise reflective of the economy as an entire, he included.
“Like many sellers in the country, we’re faced with the exact very same things that they are,” Kelly stated. “It’s not something that we undertake gently; we understand the financial pressures that people are under, it’s just something that had to be done since of the current economic conditions.”
The PLCB said sorry to suppliers for the “brief notice,” however one Republican lawmaker tied the change to an outgoing gubernatorial administration.
“I am really bothered by the lack of openness and timing of the statement,” Sen. Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg, said in a letter opposing the price increase. “Not only has the board gave full discretion to personnel without any board approval required, but the Wolf administration likewise ends on January 17th, 2023. Imposing a last-minute, extra liquor tax on Pennsylvania customers, in the subsiding hours of an administration, undermines the general public’s faith in government and is bad public policy.”
Beyond the cost boost, Regan aired wider concerns about current PLCB choices.
“Throughout my time as both chairman and a sitting member of the committee, the board has actually lacked transparency in scenarios such as closing state stores and rationing products,” he stated. “Even after the repeated requests for more transparency, the PLCB continues to operate and make decisions behind closed doors.”
Red wine and spirit sales in Pennsylvania topped $3 billion in 2021-2022, The Center Square formerly reported. Total sales increased almost 4%, but retail sales had fallen 3.4%. Kelly previously said the Board was “pleased with our efficiency.” Operating costs have also gradually dropped, with a 20% decrease since 2017-2018.