McDonnell keeps flogging ABC sell-off
Virgina Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's foundering efforts to privatize state liquor stores could get a boost if he puts the idea in front of voters in a referendum rather than relying on a General Assembly whose attitudes about the idea run from lukewarm to hostile.
Even so, two referendums to privatize state-owned liquor stores in the state of Washington, including one backed by big box retailer Costco, were defeated by voters Nov. 2.
Although McDonnell has said that the Washington proposals were different from those in Virginia, since they would have involved creating more than three times as many private liquor stores, he still has not resolved the biggest problem with his plan -- that private stores would supply the state with less revenue than state-run ones do now.
McDonnell had wanted to use the proceeds from the initial sale of the state's 330 ABC stores to help shore up the state's transportation funds. So the effort lost some of its urgency when it was discovered that the Virginia Department of Transportation had about $1 billion more in its budget than was previously known.
Ultimately, Virginia could try a far simpler approach if the goal is to boost roads -- raise the state's gasoline tax.
As it is, Virginia has one of the lowest state taxes per gallon of gasoline -- 17.5 cents per gallon. That's a lot lower than the District, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.
Virginia has stubbornly refused to budge on the gas tax, given the staunch anti-tax philosophy that is prevalent in the state. But at the end of the day, a change might be easier to manage than jumping through a lot of hoops to sell off ABC stores, even if McDonnell seems intent on trying.
| November 5, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, economy, energy, environment, public health, taxes, transportation
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