The PLCB announced the results of the 2012-13 fiscal year this week, and they were clearly happy with them. They had net income of $128.4 million (what they used to call "profit", but apparently we've trained them out of that), an increase of $24.9 million over the previous year, and "transferred" $512 million to the state's General Fund in taxes and fees, like the Johnstown Flood Emergency Tax and sales tax. The PLCB credits "robust sales and cost controls" for the increase, and a 6% increase in wine sales.
Happy control freaks immediately rejoiced, and one dropped a comment here this morning:
$128 million is hard to overlook.
Here's my response.
What's that? The amount that was wasted on the wine kiosks? The cost overruns on the new POS system? Oh, the so-called profits for 2012! Well, hell, it's against the law to buy booze anywhere else, they ought to be making SOMETHING.
Seriously, glad you brought this up. The PLCB is doing some bizarre sack dance right now about the "record" amount of money they siphoned out of the pockets of Pennsylvanians the past year...and all it took was millions in advertising, national growth in wine and spirits sales, and a police-enforced monopoly. Wow, pretty impressive.
Except when you look at the gross sales vs. profits over the past few years. Five years ago, the PLCB's gross sales were $1.778 billion; this past year they were a record $2.171 billion, an increase of 22.9%.
Five years ago, the "profits" were $112.2 million; this past year, they were $128.4 million. That's an increase of 14.4%.
Profits not keeping up with sales? Well, their costs must have gone up, right? Actually, they closed about 30 stores in that time; I have to assume stores that were losing money (why close them otherwise?). So what the hell, PLCB? Where'd all the money go? Fatter salaries for bureaucrats? Courtesy contracts? De luxe wine tasting rooms? Or just failed programs, like the wine kiosks?
I know what some of your "cost controls" were that put profits up 24% this past year: not filling positions. Board member Robert Marcus admitted that earlier this year in legislative hearings, saying roughly 250 positions, many of which he described as essential, remain unfilled. Marcus tried to blame the Governor, saying he would not permit the jobs to be filled, but that's malarkey coming from an agency that has its own source of revenue and is all too independent. Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley noted (in this story in the Inquirer) that the LCB is an independent
agency that controls its own finances and hiring, and said he was not
aware of any open positions that the administration had refused to fill.
Meanwhile, up in New Hampshire, where they KNOW how to run a State Store System, they made $145.6 million in profits on less than a third of the gross sales the PLCB did. Oh, and they did it while charging a bit less than the PLCB. Kind of looks like the PLCB is -- as I've been saying -- grossly mismanaged and inefficient. Are these the people we want to trust to come up with "modernization" ideas?
I have one modernization idea: PRIVATIZE.