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September 27, 2017

PLCB: Pennsylvania boozing set record in retail sales, tax contributions

Business PLCB
PLCB Handout Art/PLCB

The exterior of a state-run Wine & Spirits store.

Pat yourselves on the back, Pennsylvanians. You drank an ocean over the past year, and it's helping state and local governments even as we wade through another budget impasse.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board on Wednesday released unaudited financial results for fiscal year 2016-17, calculating record retail sales of $2.53 billion — including liquor and sales taxes. That's a $95.5 million increase over the previous fiscal year, representing a change of 3.9 percent.

We had a feeling that last Thanksgiving alone, an event that crashed a credit card system for an hour was a sign that sales have been brisk in the post-Act 39 world of expanded merchandising (applause to the PLCB for picking up an award for its swift adjustments). 

What does all of this mean? Other than lots of drunk people, it means state and local beneficiaries got a big boost in resources this past year. PLCB contributions jumped 22.1 percent over the previous year, also a record, to $764.7 million. That includes $361.9 million in liquor tax, $142 million in state sales tax and $216.7 million cash transfers to benefit Pennslyvania schools, health and human services programs, law enforcement and public safety initiatives.

Here's where some of those dollars went:

• $28.1 million to the Pennsylvania State Police for liquor control enforcement efforts

• $9.1 million in local sales taxes to Philadelphia and Allegheny County

• $4.5 million in licensing fees returned to local municipalities

• $2.5 million to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs

The PLCB itself generated net income of $104.9 million for a 1 percent increase over the previous year, a number kept in check by a $30.3 million jump in operating expenses. Net income as a percentage of sales actually declined to 5.2 percent from 5.4 percent the prior year.

If you were feeling down about buying so much booze last year, rest assured that you have done your part to improve Pennsylvania's fiscal health. Next year's numbers should be even better. Why? Because you'll be paying more