McDonnell Still Has Convincing to Do on Liquor Proposal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tuesday night in Richmond, Virginia, top aides in Gov. Bob McDonnell's office will square off with opponents of his plan to privatize the state's liquor stores to raise money for transportation projects in a debate hosted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

    But McDonnell still has work to do to win support for the plan in northern Virginia.

    The governor's liquor store proposal would allow restaurant and bar owners to have hard liquor delivered to their businesses at wholesale prices.

    They buy it from state liquor stores like everyone else, now.

    But if they wanted the lower prices, they'd also have to pay a 2.5 percent convenience fee.

    Linda Armellino, who has run and owned Bilbo Baggins cafe in Old Town Alexandria for 30 years, said she hasn't made up her mind about the governor's plan, but also said that 2.5 percent convenience fee sounds suspiciously like a new tax.

    "I already feel like we're being taxed enough, quite frankly," Armellino said.

    McDonnell said the convenience fee would be optional and restaurant owners who pay it would be buying their goods at more competitive prices.

    "So overall, the cost of goods sold would be going down for most people in the long run," the governor said in a phone interview.

    The biggest question for northern Virginia voters, if McDonnell pushes his plan through, will be whether it truly raises the $500 million for transportation he claims it will.

    Some critics said the plan will just scratch the surface of the needs in northern Virginia. McDonnell said the liquor privatization plan is just one part of his plan to increase transportation funding.

    The Virginia Fraternal Order of Police believes it will help transportation.

    "The Fraternal Order of Police of Virginia wishes to announce that we do endorse Governor McDonnell's efforts to privatize the ABC," FOP of Virginia said in a statement Tuesday. "This rational approach of alternative funding will provide much needed funds to help solve the state's transportation problems."

    For many religious organizations in Virginia, there are other concerns the governor's plan would triple the number of places Virginians can get hard liquor. Jack Knapp, of the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists, told WAMU's Jonathan Wilson that's inviting all sorts of other problems.

    "You're going to have more spousal abuse, more child abuse, et cetera. Those things are all going to increase in the days ahead," he said.

    But McDonnell said there's no real evidence that privatization fosters these types of problems.

    "There's no significant difference between control-monopoly states and private states, when it comes to binge drinking, DUIs, underage drinking," he said.

    Listen to the complete story at wamu.org

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