Gov. Opposes ABC Privatization
Special Report - January 21, 2011
In a highly publicized announcement issued January 20th, Governor Beverly Perdue voiced her opposition to efforts to privatize the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) system. Governor Perdue addressed her comments to a meeting of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC). According to WRAL, Governor Perdue acknowledged that while the system needed “broader standards for accountability and transparency,” any measures to privatize the system would simply not be “the right business decision” for North Carolina.
Proposals to privatize the ABC System have been a point of serious consideration in recent months due to controversy that erupted in 2009, when local media outlets exposed serious problems within the system, including high wages paid to some local board employees, alleged nepotism, and gifts given to some ABC board members by liquor companies. With the state facing an estimated $3.5 billion dollar deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, privatization has remained a point of interest, with some speculation that the sale of the system could help address revenue shortages.
According to a press release from her office, Gov. Perdue addressed those claims and concluded that the “juice isn’t worth the squeeze.” The press release noted that Gov. Perdue had considered the pros and cons of selling the ABC system, and determined that “the only way to raise enough money to make the sale practical for the state… would be to open North Carolina up to liquor sales to a much broader range of stores, from neighborhood drug stores to large retailers.”
“I don’t want to be the governor who has to hold my granddaughter’s hand as we walk past the liquor bottles on our way to the toy aisle in WalMart, or towards the cereal in Food Lion,” Gov. Perdue said in the statement. “That isn’t North Carolina. That isn’t who we are or what we want to become.”
According to news reports, incoming Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) and incoming Pro Tem of the Senate, Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), both responded to Gov. Perdue’s comments by indicating that they had not made a final decision about privatization. However, Sen. Berger said in a statement released by his office that, “the decision to privatize should be a carefully considered long term policy decision and not a short term decision based on the state’s budget situation.”
In a recent letter to state legislators, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Association of ABC Boards wrote that the current system generates more than $275 million in annual net revenue for state, and local governments, making North Carolina the third-highest state for revenue generated per gallon of liquor sold. The letter also pointed out that North Carolina ranks 48th nationally in alcohol consumption.
In the latest issue of the North Carolina Family Policy Council’s quarterly magazine, Family North Carolina, guest contributors L.A. Williams and the Reverend Mark Creech of the Christian Action League addressed the issue of privatization, and why it is a bad idea for the Tar Heel state. Go here to download the article.
Board Opposes ABC Privatization - December 22, 2010
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