Liquor Privatization Fiasco Continues; McDonnell Punts on Special Session

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    The debate over Bob McDonnell’s plan to privatize liquor sales in Virginia continues to be a big loser for the governor.  Yesterday, McDonnell’s 2009 opponent, Creigh Deeds, weighed in, calling the plan “ludicrous,” saying that it “insults the intelligence of Virginians,” and that the whole thing was “built on sand.” Deeds added that McDonnell’s 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.”

    The only question is, when would Bob McDonnell finally admit defeat on this political and policy debacle?  It appears that day has come.

    As Governor, I will not call a Special Session to debate; only to act. Several recent Special Sessions ended without any positive action taken. That is a waste of taxpayer dollars. 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. Some legislators want to wait for a JLARC review of the proposal, while others want to see revised revenue models. I understand all of these considerations and interests. My sole goal is to eliminate an outdated government monopoly and to raise money for transportation. All other details are flexible, as long as the plan makes business sense and is a good deal for the taxpayers.

    Translation into McDonnell-ese: “I know my proposal has no chance in heck of passing the Democratic-controlled State Senate, or even the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, so it’s time to save face or at least move on. Oh well, I tried.”  The problem is that this was one of Bob McDonnell’s major proposals for somehow, magically, raising revenues for transportation without raising taxes. Another was offshore oil drilling. Now, both are dead, certainly for McDonnell’s governorship. Which leaves him…where exactly?  In need of a good, stiff drink, no doubt.