Glenn Youngkin, Virginia’s Republican nominee for governor, is banking heavily on his background as a private-equity heavyweight. The former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group is a multimillionaire who says he can save the state’s economy, which, he has said, is “in the ditch.”
On Tuesday, July 14, the business network CNBC named Virginia the best state in the country in which to do business for the second year a row. The commonwealth has been No. 1 five times since the network started its rankings in 2007.
CNBC noted the state’s low employment rate (4.5 percent vs. 5.8 percent nationally), its rebound from the pandemic, its $2.6 billion surplus, its AAA bond rating and Amazon’s decision to bring at least 25,000 high-paying jobs to the state.
Youngkin hasn’t gotten very specific about what he plans to do to fix our non-existent economic problem. He has made noises about eliminating the state individual income tax, but Virginia seems to be in a sweet spot when it comes to taxation. We rank right in the middle, 24th nationally in state and local tax burden as of 2019. Not too high, not too low.
Our leaders have steered a course where we are not overburdening taxpayers while ensuring that we can pay the bills. (See: AAA bond rating.)
Youngkin harks back to Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe’s 2013-2017 stint as governor and notes that, while McAuliffe brags of creating 200,000 jobs while in office, North Carolina created 350,000. He doesn’t mention that our southern neighbor had an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent in 2013 while Virginia’s was 5.2 percent.
While the Old Dominion was dealing with a minor pothole, North Carolina truly was in the ditch, with many more jobs that needed creating.
McAuliffe says he wants to improve workplace training, institute required paid sick leave and make child care more affordable. These are certainly initiatives that a fiscally and socially conservative candidate could attack.
However, a campaign based on fixing Virginia’s economic weakness brought about by poor Democratic governance sounded a tad lame before Tuesday’s big news from CNBC. Now it just seems legless.
Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was in Richmond the same day as the best-in-business announcement, campaigning for Youngkin.
“He’s a business guy,” she proclaimed.
Yes, he is. However, if Glenn Youngkin wants to ride his ill-defined promises to save the state from financial ruin into the governor’s mansion, maybe he should find another horse.
This one seems to be dead.
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