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Deeds on McDonnell's liquor plan: "It's ludicrous"

Rosalind Helderman

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."

By Rosalind Helderman  | 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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Sheesh - one full year after the '09 elections, and Creigh Deeds still has no plan to fund transportation improvements. Yet he's ready to obstruct Gov. McDonnell's ABC reform plan, which would pump $500 million into much-needed transportation projects.

And of course, McDonnell's plan would also bring competition and improved service to customers in Northern Virginia. Deeds apparently has no interest in that, either.

Small wonder that voters in NoVa and across the state overwhelmingly said "NO" to Mr. Deeds last fall.

Posted by: jrmil | October 21, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

A $47 million hole in Virginia's liquor plan is unacceptable

“Mr. McDonnell's proposal is a rip-off. The math is simple: In just a decade, the state will lose more money than it gains from privatization. And in the years that follow, those losses will mount into hundreds of millions and then billions of dollars.”

“…the governor is raiding the state's general fund, which provides revenue for education, public safety, health care and other services, in return for a short-term money grab that might pay for a couple of intersections and a few road improvements around the state before the cash is gone. That's not exactly the "revenue-neutral plan" Mr. McDonnell promised Virginians during his gubernatorial campaign. And it's certainly not the long-term, sustainable and ongoing source of transportation dollars that the governor acknowledges the state needs.”

Increasing Venues for hard Alcohol from 332 to 1000 to pay back McDonnell’s Alcohol backers and give away Billions of guaranteed long term revenue for education and public safety while increasing drunkenness and bring down property values is wrong. In what world does a tripling liquor stores improve quality of life and real estate values? None that I know of.

Posted by: Airborne82 | October 21, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Selling hard alcohol in front of children and young adults to fund roads and construction is wrong. Why throw Booze in front of people when they and their children are out shopping for necessities like milk and break. What is the benefit of this???

You raise taxes on Gasoline to fund roads and transportation. Better yet, raise the taxes on Assault weapon sales 1000% and stop the unlicensed, untaxed sales of weapons to in and out of state criminals. Virginia needs roads more than more Booze and Assault weapons.

Gun laws make Va. a Mecca for felons with credit cards

“one of the nation's leading gun-buying bazaars for out-of-state criminals.”

Virginians do not need a liquor store on every corner; do not need to fill the streets with DUIs and violence and the jails with unfortunate drunks of McDonnell’s lazy and misplaced policies: Do not need to give Private prisons and alcohol abuse a boon while worker productivity, real estate values, and society peace go down as Jack Daniels and Jim Beam in every grocery and convenience store make their skid marks.

California group says Virginia ABC effort driven by alcohol industry

“..efforts to deregulate are being pushed by the alcohol industry, in an effort to boost profits.”

Virginia needs “an additional $100 Billion over the next 15 years to build roads, rails, and bridges”. It is time to raise prices on gasoline to fund roads and infrastructure instead of relying on increasing alcohol sales and abuse.

Posted by: Airborne82 | October 21, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Senator Deeds continues to understand that the only way to raise the kind of revenue needed to truly address the long-term transportation needs of Virginia is through a bi-partisan, comprehensive and realistic plan.

Robert McDonnell continues to hope that his fake campaign plan, which leaves a short-fall in revenue for the general fund -- as well as not even remotely meeting the multi-billion dollar long-term needs of Virginia transportation system -- will let him squeak by long enough to be able to run for national office. Virginians made the wrong decision last year.

Posted by: rebeccajm | October 22, 2010 2:34 AM | Report abuse

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