In Budget Talks, Liquor Changes Pushed To Back Of The Shelf

Dec 23, 2015

Any proposed changes to the state liquor system have fallen to the wayside amid budget talks.
Credit Matt Rourke / AP

As House and Senate leaders move toward a state budget agreement in fits and starts, one piece of the compromise appears to have fallen by the wayside: changes to the state’s wine and spirits stores.

It happened gradually.

For the past year, House Republicans insisted that revamping the system should be part of a budget compromise. But earlier this month, the lawmaker trying to draft the proposal said he didn’t see a “path forward right now.” 

This week, Rep. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia) said the issue is no longer considered central to the passage of a state budget.  

“I don’t think that’s going to hold it or keep it,” said Taylor.

GOP House Majority Leader Dave Reed said his caucus still considers liquor privatization a priority.

“Whether that’s possible over the next couple days or the next couple weeks, I don’t know at this point,” Reed said. “We could move forward with everything else and still come back in January and look at liquor.”

The House isn’t moving forward with anything as of Wednesday afternoon. The chamber’s Republicans moved to adjourn for the day, leaving members on a “six-hour call.” House Democrats called the move a disgrace, saying they were prepared to pass a $30.8 billion spending plan supported by the governor and the Senate and bring the state’s nearly six-month budget impasse to an end.

But House GOP leaders say they won’t vote on a spending proposal without the tax plan to pay for it, and top lawmakers have not unveiled any such agreement.

Senate GOP leaders, meanwhile, are insisting on the House’s passage of a plan to overhaul state pension benefits before senators vote on tax increases.