Rep. Knowles: Liquor privatization money should be spent on roads and bridges
HARRISBURG - During the final day of the 2013 budget hearings conducted by the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Schuylkill) testified in support of using the proceeds from the sale of Pennsylvania's state-owned liquor monopoly to address the state's unfunded transportation needs.
Knowles noted that while he strongly supports efforts to privatize the state's liquor system, he doesn't believe that there's a more deserving way to spend that money than on our roads and bridges.
"Transportation affects every individual in this state," said Knowles. "Every person who leaves their home, whether they be driving, walking or riding, is affected by the condition of our state's roads and bridges. A solid infrastructure is what Pennsylvania needs to create jobs, spur economic growth and build a brighter future."
Under Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to sell the liquor stores, the proceeds would go to an educational block grant initiative that would distribute $1 billion in enrichment funding over the process of four years. While Knowles agrees that funding education with the proceeds is a just and worthwhile cause, he stated his concerns that funneling money into education isn't a long-term sustainable option.
"School officials themselves have raised concerns for recurring finances when these dollars are gone," said Knowles. "They are asking where the money will come from to continue any new programs that might be instituted because of the new funding."
Knowles reintroduced his House Bill 220 in January, which would establish the Infrastructure Future Fund and dedicate all proceeds from the sale of the liquor store system to fixing our roads and bridges. He concluded his testimony by asking the committee to consider his measure.
"The time is now to address our state's transportation funding, which currently stands at $3.5 billion," said Knowles. "If we don't take action, in 10 years our unfunded transportation needs will reach $7.2 billion, and we cannot afford to let that happen."
Video of Knowles testimony from Thursday's budget hearing can be found on YouTube.com/RepKnowles. For more information on Knowles' House Bill 220, or any state-related issue, call his office in Tamaqua at (570) 668-1240, or in Hamburg at (610) 562-3411, or visit RepKnowles.com or Facebook.com/RepKnowles.