Updated: Dem leader calls McDonnell liquor privatization study a waste of money
House Democratic Leader Ward Armstrong on Friday criticized Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for "wasting taxpayers dollars" to hire a national financial management company to consider ways privatize the state's 332 retail stores.
"At a time when people across the state are looking for leadership on jobs, education, transportation and a host of other issues, Governor McDonnell appears to be spending valuable time, and now valuable money, trying to resurrect a political priority that will not benefit the people of Virginia in any way,'' Armstrong said.
The PFM Group began work last week. The company estimates its cost to be $76,900.
Under proposals to privatize or partially privatize retail stores, the state would remain the wholesaler of distilled spirits and continue to apply markup and excise tax at the wholesale level. Current applicable state and local taxes on gross receipts and income apply, according to the company's contract.
Updated, 6:30 p.m. McDonnell's office responds: "Two partisan press releases in four days from Mr. Armstrong,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. "Both are late on the news, wrong on the facts and full of hyperbole. We know Mr. Armstrong desperately wants to run statewide. Apparently suffering through these inane press releases is the price we will all have to pay for his ambition."
McDonnell unveiled a plan in September calling for the complete privatization of all aspects of the state system, which would produce a one-time windfall of at least $458 million for transportation. But he faces considerable opposition in both the Democratic-led Senate and GOP-controlled House of Delegates in part because the plan would bring in $47 million less each year to the state.
He abandoned plans to hold a special legislative session on the proposal this month after failing to garner enough votes, but will pursue it when lawmakers return to Richmond for their regular session in January. The 46-day legislative session begins Jan. 12.
"After nearly a year, I urge Governor McDonnell to introduce a sustainable and comprehensive plan for transportation,'' Armstrong said. "If he is unwilling to do that, I hope he will at least refrain from wasting taxpayer dollars."
McDonnell's office did not immediately return a request for comment.
| November 12, 2010; 5:28 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, House of Delegates, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell
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