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Governor makes ABC privatization plan public

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Gov. Bob McDonnell unwrapped his plan Wednesday to get Virginia out of the liquor business, a reform designed to pump nearly $500 million into transportation. 

Under the governor’s plan, the money would go into the “Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank,” a new state entity that would provide grants and loans for road and rail projects. Funds could be used for things such as construction and maintenance of roads, public transit and freight rail and ports. 

Calling it one part of an overall solution — Virginia needs nearly $8 billion to address ransportation infrastructure needs — McDonnell characterized his plan as an opportunity to eliminate a 76-year-old state monopoly while raising $458 million for an aging transportation network. 

Currently, the state’s 332 liquor stores generate $231 million a year in tax revenues and profits. McDonnell’s proposal would generate $206 million a year, and to do so he is calling for a new tax of 2.5 percent on restaurants and taverns that would buy liquor directly from wholesalers. 

A key part of the plan would be the auctioning of 1,000 licenses. They would be awarded based on square footage and shelf space, so large and small vendors would have an opportunity to obtain a license. 

The plan calls for 600 licenses for big box retailers with 15,000 or more square feet of retail space, 150 licenses for package stores with less than 30,000 square feet of space,  and 250 licenses for smaller retail outlets such as convenience stores with less than 15,000 square feet of space. 

For more details on the governor’s 24-page plan and to see other related presentations, go to
http://www.reform.virginia.gov/Presentations/docs/ProposedABCPrivatizationModel96.pdf

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