Assembly 2011: Liquor store privatization dead for 2011
The Governor’s proposal to privatize the state’s ABC stores is effectively dead for the 2011 session. Craig Carper reports.
Republican Delegate Chris Jones is the chairman of the House General Laws Committee and he's effectively put the breaks on Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposal to sell Virginia’s liquor stores. Jones has decided not to allow the Governor’s proposal to be presented, because he says it is too complex an issue to tackle in the short session.
The Democratic-controlled Senate has long said that the Governor’s bill was dead on arrival and has also refused to hear it.
Governor McDonnell has been pushing hard to build support for ABC privatization since taking office, but to no avail. And now that it's evident that his proposal will not get heard in the Republican-controlled House, it shows something that many have been saying for months, that the Governor has yet to gain the support of his own party on the issue.
Republican Delegate Riley Ingram.
Ingram: Even though I don’t think we should be in the ABC business, I think that what we have is not broken.
Ingram says one of his principle concerns is the loss of further jobs in a down economy.
Ingram: The big boxes like Walmart and Food Lion and things like this, they’re not going to hire those people at the ABC stores and a lot of these people have got 20 years, 18 years, 25 years of service but yet they’re still 45, 50 years old, so they cannot retire; we need to really look at what we’re doing before we do it, and I think that you cannot give anything a fair shot, so to speak, unless you have time to look at all aspects of it, and I just cannot get my arms around it. Although in my district, in my district, it’s probably 55-60 percent of the people that don’t want to privatize, but there are anywhere from 35-45 percent of the people that do want to privatize ABC. It's just that I cannot get my arms around the privatization of ABC at this time. It may be at some point in time, but I don’t think that right now is the time to do it.
Democratic Delegate and House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong.
Armstrong: One of the mistakes that governors make is when you don’t talk to your own people before you advance a major initiative, and the governor, you know, just continued to run into the brick wall, back up and run into the brick wall again and again and again, until finally the House said enough is enough.
I don’t know how you get over the two flaws that are in the thing, that one, there’s no proposal he can come up with that’s not going to reduce state revenues at a time when we sorely need them. The other is, I don’t know how you develop a plan that doesn’t substantially increase the number of liquor stores in the state and both of those are problematic with both sides of the aisle, so I don't know how you fix that.
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin says the Governor is doing very well with his other key priorities, transportation, higher education, economic development and government reform, and while yesterday’s decision was a setback, his office remains committed to the principle of ABC privatization.
Martin: The Governor does believe ABC should be privatized. It puts money into roads, it ends an outdated monopoly and it makes government smaller. He’s committed to seeing that happen. Now whether it happens this session, some future session, it will happen during this administration.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square