McDonnell's commission backs his ABC privatization plan
Gov. Bob McDonnell's handpicked Government Reform Commission voted this afternoon in favor of his proposal to privatize the state's liquor system.
The commission voted 22 to 3 after a lengthy debate. Three Democratic legislators -- Del. Bob Brink and Sens. Mary Margaret Whipple and L. Louise Lucas -- voted against the proposal.
To drum up more support, McDonnell made significant changes to the proposal last week, eliminating a 1 percent tax on annual sales by wholesalers and a 2.5 percent fee on restaurants that choose to buy their liquor directly from wholesalers.
The state would lose $47 million a year if the plan is implemented, but the governor's staff assured commission members at the meeting Monday that they would find other ways to make up the losses.
McDonnell is considering calling the General Assembly back to Richmond in November for a special session to debate the liquor proposal and other commission proposals (still being debated this afternoon).
The commission is charged with providing initial recommendations to McDonnell by Oct. 15. A final report must be ready Dec. 15.
Update: The Virginia Chamber of Commerce on Monday issued a statement supporting privatization -- but with the caveat that its endorsement comes on the condition that ending the government monopoly on liquor sales "makes economic sense for the Commonwealth." No word on whether the chamber believes McDonnell's current proposal fits the bill.
The Chamber's full statement:
The mission of the Virginia Chamber is the protection and promotion of Virginia business. Whenever possible, the State government should focus on its core functions and not compete with the private sector. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce supports the idea that the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and that increased competition will benefit consumers by bringing more choices. Therefore, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce endorses the privatization of ABC as long as it makes economic sense for the Commonwealth.
| October 4, 2010; 2:37 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell
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