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August 24, 2015

Foundation: No booze until budget is passed

Pittsburgh Foundation says state should shut down liquor stores until budget is passed

A charitable foundation, wishing for legislators to personally feel the pain caused by the two-month budget impasse, has called on all politicians in Harrisburg to suspend their paychecks until a compromise is reached. 

And they have another idea, too.

“We believe this would be the perfect time for an executive order immediately closing all state-run wine and liquor stores until a budget is passed, so we all can focus on the concept of giving up things we believe we can’t live without,” said Maxwell King, president of the Pittsburgh Foundation.

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled state legislature have been in a stalemate for the past two months, unable to pass a state budget that satisfies both sides.

The Pittsburgh Foundation, one of the largest community foundations in the country, wants to bring attention to how much this impasse is hurting nonprofit and county agencies that provide essential human services.

"Costly borrowing and extra begging to donors are happening for agencies in Pittsburgh and across the state,” said King. “The rest of us count on them to provide essential services, ranging from protecting abused women and children to providing emergency treatment for the mentally ill."

A survey conducted by United Way and seven other nonprofit organizations found that half the agencies surveyed are facing cash flow problems now. Another 25 percent expect shortfalls in September.

“It is morally reprehensible that the first hostages to be taken in these recurring budget battles are those most in need of basic assistance and services,” said King.

Forbes Fund, which supports the Pittsburgh Foundation, has partnered with Bridgeway Capital to give short-term loans to nonprofits that are facing financial shortfalls because of the budget impasse. For more information, email