The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Virginia’s post-pandemic economy needs a kick-start

A "Now Hiring" sign outside a restaurant in Arlington in August. (Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)

Glenn Youngkin is the Republican nominee for governor of Virginia.

For years, Democrats have accumulated and consolidated control in Richmond, but Virginians have very little to show for what now amounts to one-party control of the commonwealth by Richmond liberals.

Virginia has the lowest standards for math and reading out of all 50 states. Our murder rate is at a 20-year high, and four of our cities are among America’s deadliest. Our cost of living is ranked 32nd in the United States.

So it probably comes as no surprise to learn that our friends and neighbors are leaving.

More Virginians have moved away than moved here from the other 49 states. In fact, there are 600,000 “former Virginians” living in states that we directly compete with, including North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Texas.

I know that solving problems requires a game plan, a serious and bold strategy to take on the challenges facing all Virginians.

By cutting costs for families, keeping our communities safe, reinvigorating our job growth, restoring excellence in education and making government work, my Day One Game Plan will be the strong start needed to make Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family.

Richmond liberals have figured out too many ways to separate taxpayers from their hard-earned money. Virginians were overtaxed by $2.6 billion last fiscal year alone.

Filling up your tank already costs enough, but the Virginia gas tax has increased by 136 percent since 2014, costing families hundreds of dollars per year. Meanwhile, Virginia remains one of 13 states that slaps a tax on groceries, hurting families who are trying to feed their children.

My Day One Game Plan tackles the rising cost of living and cuts costs for all Virginians by eliminating the grocery tax and suspending the most recent gas tax hike for a year, giving Virginia voters a voice in their real estate property taxes by requiring a vote for any proposed increase, cutting taxes on veteran retirement pay and cutting income taxes for all taxpayers by doubling the standard deduction. This will give a typical Virginia family of four almost $1,500 back next year.

Virginia’s competitor states are beating us. Terry McAuliffe (D) was last elected governor in November 2013, and if we had grown jobs at the same rate as Florida, Georgia and North Carolina during his tenure, we would have three times as many jobs. That’s not cherry-picking data, either; Virginia grew jobs below the national average while McAuliffe was governor.

Virginia can become competitive again by advancing common-sense solutions to get our jobs machine cranked up again.

We’ll cut burdensome regulations and stop forced unionization. We’ll launch #JumpstartJobs to train workers, develop talent, attract investment and make Virginia an easier place to start a business to add 400,000 jobs and grow 10,000 start-ups.

Most important, we will never lock down our economy again. The commonwealth is still struggling to rebound from the pandemic. We rank almost last in recovering jobs lost. My plan includes a small-business tax holiday and eliminating taxes on pandemic-related loans.

And our government must finally be able to accomplish its most basic tasks. On Day One, we will fully fund law enforcement; give teachers raises and restore high expectations in the classroom while teaching Virginia’s children how to think, not what to think; fix the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Employment Commission; and invest more money in roads and highways.

It’s going to take a new kind of leader, not a failed politician looking for a second chance, to get Virginia moving.

I’ve spent my career leading teams, creating jobs and building businesses. My Day One Game Plan applies that business experience and outsider mind-set to the challenges Virginia faces and the opportunities before us.