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WATCHBLOG: How big is liquor privatization pay day for school districts?

By   /   February 12, 2013  /   No Comments

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – The liquor store privatization plan being floated by Gov. Tom Corbett and backed by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, would use the profits generated from selling off the existing state liquor system to fund a new block grant for school districts across the state.

Based on previous studies, the administration is expecting to generate somewhere north of $1 billion if the privatization effort is successful.

Under guidelines Corbett laid out last week and reiterated during a press conference on Tuesday, districts would be allowed to use the new funding to increase school security, to boost pre-K education or to pay for expanded science, technology and math programs.

But how much would each district get?  This much:

Passport for Learning Block Grant Distribution by


The big winners? By our count, 18 districts would get more than $1 million in the first year of the block grant, mostly the big city districts.  As might be expected, Philadelphia takes the largest share with more than $32 million in the first year alone.

A few caveats – most importantly, if liquor privatization does not go through, there will be no block grants.  Also, these figures are purely estimates based on what the administration hopes to generate from the liquor store sales.  If the final number is smaller (or larger), or if the General Assembly changes the purpose of those revenues, these figures will necessarily change.

And Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis on Tuesday gave only a brief explanation of the funding formula to be used for these potential future dollars.  He said it would be based on the enrollment of the school districts and a formula that took into account the poverty level of each district.

Opponents of the liquor plan have criticized Corbett’s maneuver that ties the additional dollars for public education to privatization of the liquor stores, one of his major political goals.

Contact Boehm at [email protected] and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.