Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge has wisely backed off a threat to hold up state funding for a wide range of building projects unless the Pennsylvania legislature approved the sale of 665 state liquor stores. It was a bad idea from the get-go, and the Ridge administration's legislation only made it worse.
Ridge's original bill would have used money from liquor store sales to pay for new sports stadiums, always a questionable use of state money. Opposition to that idea forced the governor to revise the bill in March, so that the estimated $600 million would have gone to scholarships and community projects.
But opponents of the bill pointed out that privatizing state liquor sales still would have: cost state employees their jobs, authorized an additional 102 liquor outlets and changed store closing hours from the current 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. It was a combination lawmakers or citizens weren't ready to swallow.