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Virginia One Step Closer To Privatized Liquor Stores

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By Michael Pope

In Virginia, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s government-reform commission formally accepted a proposal that would privatize the state’s liquor stores.

Today’s vote of members of the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring clears the way for privatization of Virginia’s liquor stores, a state-owned monopoly that dates back to the end of Prohibition. Now that members of the commission have formally accepted to proposal, McDonnell says he’s considering calling for a special session in the next few weeks.

“Philosophically, I care about really two things. One, we need to end the monopoly. It’s the only legal product that government’s got a monopoly over. Thirty-two states have already said you don’t need to do it. The free market works better. And two, to raise at least half a billion dollars for transportation. Those are the only things that are really steadfast non-negotiable parts of the plan,” McDonnell says.

Critics of the plan say privatizing the state-owned liquor stores would jeopardize $47 million of annual revenue. But Alexandria City Councilwoman Alicia Hughes, who is a member of the governor’s committee says any losses can be met adopting other recommendations of the committee.

"In doing a cost-benefit analysis of all of the savings that we are racking up, are we really going to be running a deficit? The answer is definitely no," Hughes says.

McDonnell says he wants to make sure he’s got the votes before calling a special session.

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