Statement of Speaker William J. Howell on Governor's Announcement regarding Government Reform and ABC Privatization

RICHMOND, VA - Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) today issued the following statement after Governor McDonnell's announcement that proposals and any legislation from his Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring would be considered by the Virginia General Assembly during its regularly scheduled 2011 Session that convenes in January: "Like so many who are continuing to grapple with ongoing effects of lack-luster job growth and a continuing weak economy, I agree with Governor McDonnell that Virginians are making do on less and their government must do the same," said Speaker Howell.

"State government must live within its means and be made smaller, smarter, more efficient, easier to access and less burdensome to taxpayers. As Speaker of the House and as Co-Vice Chair of the Governor's Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring, I strongly support improving the delivery of government services, maximizing the return on taxpayer investments and minimizing the costs of government wherever possible. That's why I am pleased that so many broad government reform proposals already are underway administratively or are continuing to be worked on and readied for introduction as bills for legislative consideration in January, including the privatization of Virginia's Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) stores.

"As a former legislator himself, the Governor is fully cognizant that the process of involving all stakeholders surrounding an issue, agreeing on general goals and specific provisions and then drafting an actual bill takes time. A lot has been learned already in discussions this summer and fall about how best and most effectively to end the outdated government monopoly on the sale of distilled spirits. So, I commend Governor McDonnell for not wanting to waste scarce taxpayer dollars on a special session next month while discussions continue and when the time between now and January can be used to hopefully good effect. I also continue to believe that convening a group of lawmakers, wholesalers, distillers, retailers and other interested parties to work on a bill for consideration in the 2011 Session to accomplish this reform of state government makes sense.

"As always, I intend to continue partnering with Governor McDonnell wherever possible to make government more efficient, effective, accountable and transparent, while ensuring the core functions of state government are funded and properly managed. I commend our Governor for his ongoing dedication to innovative, creative and fiscally sound leadership that's helping to transform state government, strengthen our Commonwealth and improve the lives and livelihoods of all Virginians."