State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Pennsylvania's state liquor stores are hiking prices

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 29, 2017 5:43 AM
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Some prices in state liquor stores are going up for the first time in many years. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

 

(Harrisburg) - Prices are on the rise for some of the most popular wines and liquors sold in state stores.

It's the first across-the-board hike in more than two decades, thanks to a new law passed last year that gave the LCB the ability to flexibly price its products.

422 wine and liquor products are seeing increases of, on average, about $1 a bottle.

That number includes many of the state Liquor Control Board's best-sellers. But spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell was quick to note, it only represents about five percent of the total products offered.

She said the decision was only made after ensuring the market could bear an increase -- and not just because of the LCB's increasing responsibility to contribute to state coffers. 

"There's always a budgetary consideration" she said. "You know, this past year we made a record contribution of $217 million to the general fund. But this pricing decision was just about managing a business effectively and optimizing revenue."

This coming year, the LCB's on the hook for another high contribution -- $185 million.

The pricing flexibility the board now has applies to both consumers and suppliers -- meaning the LCB can negotiate with vendors for lower prices to save money.

It has sometimes struggled to do that over the last year.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said the negotiations -- while often successful -- are a work in progress.

"I think it's going to take some time," she said. "We're a year in now. Those negotiations will continue to evolve. It's a very different way of doing business than it had been for the 80 years prior."

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