Deeds on McDonnell's liquor plan: "It's ludicrous"
Gov. Bob McDonnell's former gubernatorial rival says his plan to raise money for roads by selling state-run liquor stores is "ludicrous."
Speaking to college students at the University of Virginia Wednesday night, Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds (Bath) said fixing the state's clogged roads is a multi-year, multi-billion dollar project.
"For those folks to talk about fixing roads by selling liquor stores for half a billion dollars insults the intelligence of Virginians," he said.
Deeds said he's not opposed to the concept of privatization, provided it doesn't result in a yearly loss to the state's general fund. But he said McDonnell's current proposal--which would privatize both the wholesale and retail sale of liquor, triple the number of outlets that sell hard liquor and produce a one-time windfall of $458 million for transportation but a $47 million annual loss to the state's general fund--is going nowhere.
He said the proposal reminded him of a Sunday school song about houses built on stone and houses built on sand.
"When you build it on sand, it washes away," he said. "This house is built on sand. It's a ludicrous proposal."
Transportation was a leading point of contention between Deeds and McDonnell during last year's campaign.
Deeds had promised to convene a commission to examine the issue and said he'd agree to raise taxes for roads if a bipartisan majority of the legislature agreed. McDonnell charged Deeds' approach would result in a tax increase amid an economic downturn and instead put forward a package of proposals he said would raise dollars for roads without a tax hike. A centerpiece of that plan was his proposal to end the state's monopoly on the sale of liquor.
During the campaign, McDonnell said he could sell a wary legislature on the idea through the exercise of gubernatorial leadership. But, so far, McDonnell has failed to build a legislative coalition around his proposal--Republicans and Democrats have said they think it's a bad idea.
"It's not leadership," Deeds said in an interview, of McDonnell's efforts so far. "Leadership is stepping up to the plate and bringing Democrats and Republicans together. That's gubernatorial leadership."
Deeds rejected the idea that he's trying to say "I told you so" to the man who defeated him by more than 17 percentage points.
"All I'm saying is, let's get it done," he said. "We've got to address transportation. And we have to do it now."
| October 21, 2010; 10:05 AM ET
Categories: Creigh Deeds, General Assembly 2010, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate
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