Pennsylvania residents are about to pay more at their liquor stores
Alcohol became more expensive in Pennsylvania Sunday thanks to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which could send more business to New Jersey.
The board regulates the distribution of beverage alcohol in Pennsylvania, operates 600 wine and spirits stores statewide, and licenses 20,000 alcohol producers and retailers. The board also selects what product will be sold in the state.
That's a different system than in New Jersey, where prices and products are set by retailers and licensed by individual municipalities.
A 4% price hike on 3,550 wines and spirits sold at Pennsylvania state liquor stores went into effect Sunday with just 10 days' notice. It was the first increase since 2019.
The decision was made by the chairman of the board and its three members behind closed doors, spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell told WGAL TV. She said the price increase was driven by inflation, the commission's costs and the requirement to fund drug and alcohol programs.
Objections to the increase
The Distilled Spirits Council objected to the increase and blamed the administration of Gov. Tom Wolfe, whose term ends Tuesday.
“This last-minute push by an outgoing administration will have implications not only for spirits producers but for the Pennsylvania hospitality industry and its consumers," Andy Deloney, senior vice president and head of state public policy for the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., said in a written statement.
"We are extremely disappointed in the process by which this increase was determined and hope the PLCB will adjust future plans to include consideration of the partners most heavily impacted by their unilateral decision-making.”
Deloney said the increase will send customers over the border to make their liquor purchases.
PLCB chairman Tim Holden said the group's objection is "surprising at best, disingenuous at worst" considering many of their own members have increased prices within the past two years without the PLCB's input.
One more increased cost for consumers
Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Regan asked in a letter to Holden that the board delay the increase pending further consideration of its impact on consumers. He said the PLCB needs to justify the increase to the state Legislature.
"Any decision on additional liquor taxes should be left to the new administration and the
Legislature, which Pennsylvania’s Constitution vests sole power to levy taxes," Regan wrote.
Prices went up immediately on regular-priced items. Items on sale and some locally produced items are exempt from the increase.