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by Brandon Jarvis

Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin announced new policy proposals Monday that he says would be funded with Virginia’s surplus and revenue over the next year. 

With plans to both spend more and cut taxes, his campaign stressed that local funding for things like public safety and education would not decrease. The initial cuts would total $1.8 billion with a recurring total of $1.4 billion a year. Virginia saw a $2.6 billion surplus this previous fiscal — approximately half of that is required by law to go into Virginia’s rainy-day fund.

Campaign aides for Youngkin provided several specific policy proposals in a press call Monday morning. Suspending the gas tax hike for one year, providing tax rebates of $300 for individuals and $600 for couples, eliminating taxes for veterans on the first $40,000 of their retirement pay, and cutting income taxes by doubling the standard deductions — $259 for individuals and $518 for couples, are some of the key ideas from Youngkin’s new proposal. 

“It is absolutely too darn expensive to live in Virginia,” Youngkin said at a campaign rally in Northern Virginia Monday afternoon. “The liberal left keeps piling on costs.” 

Youngkin will also be proposing to eliminate the 2.5% grocery tax in Virginia. Parker Slaybaugh, the executive director of the Virginia Food Industry Association and former spokesperson for Republican Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, applauded the announcement from Youngkin. “The Virginia Food Industry Association supports any measure that makes it easier for families to have greater access to affordable and nutritional food and grocery items and hope both candidates will support policies that promote everyone having increased availability to the essential items they depend on,” Slaybaugh said in a statement Monday morning. 

If he wins, Youngkin says he would also put a stop to runaway property tax increases by requiring citizens to vote on and approve any property tax increase. “We will require a vote before homeowners taxes are ever increased again,” Youngkin said to a cheering crowd in Fairfax. 

Additionally, Youngkin reiterated his promise to build 20 charter schools across Virginia on top of an additional $100 million for teacher pay increases.

Youngkin’s Democratic opponent is Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia that is now seeking a second term four years after leaving office due to Virginia’s ban of successional gubernatorial terms. 

The latest polling has shown McAuliffe with a lead over Youngkin as the Republican spends millions to try and build name recognition across the commonwealth.

Youngkin has been criticized for a lack of policy proposals throughout his gubernatorial campaign, while McAuliffe’s campaign spokesperson pointed out in a statement Monday afternoon that he has released a long list of proposals and plans.

“Terry McAuliffe wasted no time in sharing with Virginians his nearly 20 comprehensive plans to invest in public education, make health care more affordable, and create hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs,” said McAuliffe spokeswoman, Christina Freundlich. “Unlike Glenn, Virginians can trust Terry to deliver, just as he did as governor before.”

Most proposals from either candidate would require General Assembly approval. Democrats currently hold both chambers, but all 100 of the House of Delegates seats are up for election this year. Democrats took control of the House when they flipped six seats in 2019 giving them a 55-45 majority.

Youngkin also said during his campaign rally that he would not allow COVID-19 lockdowns to ever happen again if he becomes governor of Virginia.

Early voting begins Sept. 17 for the Nov. 2 election.

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By vascope

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