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Perdue opposes privatizing liquor sales

Posted January 20, 2011

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— Gov. Bev Perdue announced Thursday that she opposes privatizing liquor sales in North Carolina, saying that it's "not the right business decision" for the state.

The current state-run liquor distribution system "has worked well, pretty well," Perdue said, adding that counties need to develop "broader standards for accountability and transparency."

The General Assembly, which convenes next week, must approve any changes to the Alcoholic Beverage Control system.

Perdue shared her opinion at a conference of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners in Durham.

Rep. Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, the House Speaker-designate, said he has not seen the data Perdue used in making her decision. However, Tillis said he will use that data and “complete our own assessment as we identify areas we may privatize."

Senate Republican leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said he shares the governor's concerns regarding the sustainability of revenue derived from the ABC system.

"I believe that we should continue to look at opportunities for privatizing governmental functions and continue to consider privatizing the ABC system," Berger said. "However, 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.”

Perdue pulls back from ABC privitization plan Perdue pulls back from ABC privitization plan

In the past year, a consultant company studied the ABC system and looked at the state’s options. Following its initial report, Perdue said she decided "to only consider options that would protect local and state tax revenue, and keep North Carolina as a 'control state.'"

Additionally, she said, the value of the sale would have to significantly offset the risk involved to the state’s health and safety.

Independent revenue estimates for a one-time sale have been valued at about $300 million, according to Perdue.  

"The only way to raise enough money to make the sale practical for the state – $1 billion plus dollars – would be to open North Carolina up to liquor sales to a much broader range of stores, from neighborhood drug stores to large retailers," she said. 

“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. That isn’t North Carolina. That isn’t who we are or what we want to become,” Perdue added. 

Calls for privatization have come from critics, including numerous state lawmakers, who argued that the state system got out of control with salaries and liquor industry gifts and junkets.

A WRAL News investigation in 2009 showed a lack of ethics rules for ABC boards and disclosed high salaries for the administrators of the New Hanover ABC system. Reform passed last year requires all ABC board members to undergo budgeting and ethics training.

Perdue said she needed to know about the effect on state costs and revenue before forming an opinion on privatizing the ABC system, in which more than 400 government-run stores sell liquor. 

Local governments and conservative groups have supported a system that they argue works well at controlling consumption while providing government revenues.

A recent audit by an outside consultant found that 24 of the 163 local ABC boards lost money in the 2010 fiscal year.

The state Association of ABC Boards says the current system is effective and generates more than $200 million in tax revenue annually. A lobbyist for the group said that North Carolina ranks 48th nationally in per capita alcohol consumption but third in the state revenue generated per gallon of liquor sold.


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  • blackdog Jan 21, 2011

    FOR SALE: State of North Carolina

  • gallbury Jan 21, 2011

    Here Bev goes again with the "homespun" rhetoric, "I don't want my lil' grandaughter in a Walmart where "likker" is sold. By the way, "likker" is a slang derivative of liqour (liqueur). Well Bev, I'm much more concerned about the economy of NC than what "your lil' grandaughter" is exposed too, so why don't you make decisions based on being the Governor instead of Ma Kettle.

  • blackdog Jan 21, 2011

    "Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms should be convience store, not a government agency."Keepin_it_real_in_NC

    Yep... Just go to the 7-11, get some Jack Daniels, a Glock, some bullets, ...oh... and a pack of Lucky's. Why stop there ? Put that stuff in vending machines... Yeeeeee Haw !

  • truth9806 Jan 21, 2011

    If she opposes it...it must be the right thing to do!

  • michellelynay Jan 21, 2011

    Gov. Perdue needs to give up her monopoly on liquor.

  • BeenHereSince67 Jan 21, 2011

    This system is fully in place. Fully functional with excellent revenue coming to the State. Tightly controlled like we folks who are FROM NC like to see it. Only a few bad apples and "private" citizens are yelling for privatization through their pet Representatives.

    This is nothing more than yet another scam that will let Rich Friends of Elected Reps get even richer while trashing yet another properly functioning area of government. This system is NOT broken. It DOES NOT need "fixing" (and that's just the right word too!)!

  • IndependentAmerican Jan 21, 2011

    to TheBullCity: Wrongo. 3rd in revenue doesn't mean "2 states made more money". Only means 2 states had more revenue. If expenses are higher that revenue (as in 24 of NC ABC boards) you lose money. As a conservative I favor privatization. Sales can still be controlled - Florida has alcohol sales in grocery stores, but it is physically separated from the food aisles. Sunday sales restrictions never made sense. I can buy it on Saturday and drink all Sunday morning. How does the 'sales' restriction affect that?

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Jan 21, 2011

    Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms should be convience store, not a government agency.

  • RM24 Jan 21, 2011

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964. e bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee in November 1963, and referred to the Rules Committee, whose chairman, Howard W. Smith, a DEMOCRAT and avid segregationist from Virginia, indicated his intention to keep the bill bottled up indefinitely. Normally, the bill would have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator James O. Eastland, Democrat from Mississippi. Given Eastland's firm opposition, it seemed impossible that the bill would reach the Senate floor.
    The most fervent opposition to the bill came from Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC)

    The bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964 and the "Southern Bloc" of 18 southern Democratic Senators and one Republican Senator led by Richard Russell (D-GA) launched a filibuster to prevent its passage.

    It was not the Democrats who wanted the equal rights. There is plenty of info to prove if the Democrats had their way things would be much different.

  • RM24 Jan 21, 2011

    Because, these are the people with the mindset who drive laws to control OTHER PEOPLE’s personal lives. when & where you can buy alcohol, who you can love & marry, what you can and cannot do with your own body, when you can end your own life, what sex acts are allowed between consenting adults in their own bedroom, etc.

    Who just passed the new smoking bans? Dems maybe? How about who pushes gun control? Dems maybe? And how often is not being able to buy alcohol after 2am a problem? Buy your case of beer at 1:59am, if thats not enough for you to make it thru the night then there are some problems that allowing you to buy after 2am cant fix. Who is forcing this healthcare bill on the people? Dems maybe? How did marriage come about anyway? I don't personally care who marries who. I dont have to answer for what others do in their personal life. And I know most around me feel the same way. But dont say that only REPUBLICANS try to force things.