No special session for liquor privatization, McDonnell announces
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has announced he will not call the General Assembly into a special session this fall to consider his proposal to privatize state-run liquor stores.
The announcement had been widely anticipated as McDonnell's proposal faced mounting opposition from Democrats and Republicans in the legislature.
But the governor's acknowledgement that he does not have enough votes to pass the plan, a key campaign promise that he had said repeatedly he hoped the legislature would take up before Jan. 1, is a significant political loss.
In a lengthy statement, McDonnell recommitted himself to the idea but acknowledged he needs more time to build support with lawmakers.
He pledged to introduce a bill that would privatize the state's Alcohol Beverage Control system on the first day of the General Assembly's regular session in January.
"We will privatize Virginia's ABC stores. The only question is one of timing," he said in the statement. "As Governor, I will not call a Special Session to debate; only to act."
McDonnell has proposed privatizing both the wholesale and retail sale of hard spirits. His plan would triple the number of outlets that sell liquor, generating $458 million in a one-time windfall to spend on improving state roads. But it would also result in $47 million a year less in annual revenue for the state that the current monopoly.
McDonnell said in his statement that he is willing to compromise on all details of the plan, provided it makes business sense for taxpayers, eliminates the government's monopoly and raises money for roads.
"Most legislators and affected stakeholders have expressed philosophical support for privatization, but want more time to carefully and thoroughly consider our proposal, and offer ideas on how to improve it; in fact many legislators have now begun to approach us with specific ideas and policy suggestions," he wrote.
Stay with us for reaction and further coverage.
| October 22, 2010; 12:43 PM ET
Categories: Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman
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