McDonnell Weighs Options On ABC Privatization
Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposal to sell the state’s liquor stores was approved yesterday by the Commission on Government Reform, but the plan faces strong bipartisan opposition in the legislature. Craig Carper reports.
The Governor’s privatization plan falls roughly 47 million dollars short of the 330 million the state’s liquor stores currently generate on an annual basis from store profits and taxes.
Democrats largely oppose the plan, including the majority in the state Senate, and many members of the governor's own party in the Republican-controlled House have expressed fiscal and social concerns.
Democratic Delegate Bob Brink was one of the three votes against advancing the Governor’s plan.
Brink: We’ve heard that worrying about this revenue loss is just kind of a distraction and that it doesn’t matter, but especially in the budget situation that we’re in right now, abandoning a significant and growing revenue source is risky and shortsighted in the extreme.
McDonnell has firmly maintained that the state has no business selling distilled spirits, as it is not a core function of government, and that selling Virginia’s liquor licenses will generate a one-time windfall of 500 million dollars for state roads.
McDonnell: I’ve got some members who say we don’t care about revenues; you ought to lose all of that 114 million dollars of profit and truly make it a complete free enterprise system. I have some others that say you need to have to have every dime of the current ABC profits. I’m open to any number of other ideas and changes, if the legislature wants to recoup every bit of that 47 million, there’s ways to do that.
McDonnell acknowledges that time is running out for calling a special legislative session on government reform in November, where ABC privatization would be the centerpiece. He says a decision will be made in the next three weeks.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square