|Pennsylvania's state-owned system of liquor stores, long derided by residents of the Keystone State as being woefully inefficient, is moving closer to the scrap heap.
Voting along party lines, the House Liquor Control Committee agreed to back Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to sell the locations. The proposal, opposed by Democrats and unions representing state store workers, now heads to the full House where it's scheduled for a vote on Thursday. If passed, it would then go to the full Senate.
The Philadelphia Inquirer quotes a statement from Corbett as describing the committee vote as a "momentous first step to bring Pennsylvania into the 21st century and provide Pennsylvanians with the convenience and choice that Americans in 48 other states enjoy."
One issue yet to be worked out is what will happen to the money from the sale, estimated at between $800 million and $1 billion.
The idea of selling the state store system, which dates back to the Prohibition era, has been discussed for decades but is being pushed again by Corbett as a way for Pennsylvania to address its fiscal woes. About 60% of Pennsylvanians back the plan.
"I think the odds are good that liquor privatization will happen -- there is real momentum behind the effort this year," says Nathan Benefield of the conservative Commonwealth Foundation think tank in an email to MSN Money. "The House committee just advanced legislation that includes real privatization today, that is the first time that has ever happened."