by Brandon Jarvis

Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin announced plans Thursday morning for how he would want to spend Virginia’s budget surplus and COVID-relief funding if elected governor. 

The surplus and federal money will total well over $5.5 billion when everything is finalized. That leaves Virginia leaders with a lot of extra money to allocate, which they plan to begin to do next week during a legislative special session. Youngkin wants to use that money for tax relief, promoting school choice, reinvigorating job creation, and retention bonuses for police officers. 

Speaking from the campus of Virginia Union University, Youngkin began by stating that he wants to provide $1.5 billion in tax relief to Virginians. “Taxes and fees have increased at two times the rate of GDP growth,” Youngkin said during the press conference. “The state government keeps grabbing more of the pot from individual taxpayers and families.”  

Youngkin also talked in-depth about providing parents with more educational options for their children. “The best means to economic development in Virginia is an educated child,” Youngkin said. “I believe when you give parents choice, you give children a chance.” Youngkin then discussed creating 20 new innovation schools in failing districts and providing parents with a $500 refund for each student to help them catch up from lost education time during the pandemic.  

Youngkin then addressed the economy and said that he has a vision for Virginia where it will be the leading state for job creation. One of the steps that he wants to take to try and achieve that goal is protecting employees and small businesses from payroll tax increases by fully funding the deficit of the Virginia Unemployment Insurance fund. “Otherwise it will be disastrous to all small businesses and jobs,” he said. 

Youngkin also wants to provide a tax holiday for small businesses that have less than 50 employees. “When the hard left looks at jobs, they see tax revenue. I see income for families and opportunities for Virginians. We have to stop piling up more taxes on the job machine,” he said. 

A common talking point from both parties, Youngkin pledged to invest in rural broadband and said that Governor Northam and McAuliffe haven’t done enough in that area. Northam recently announced a $700 billion plan to reach universal broadband access in Virginia. 

Youngkin didn’t finish without showing support for law enforcement. He said he wants to use some of the extra money to provide a $5000 retention bonus for law enforcement officers over the next three years. 

“This is a moment for transformational investment,” Youngkin said. “Make no mistake, with a Youngkin administration, this is the Virginia that you can expect. When I am governor, we will get things done.” 

The campaign for Youngkin’s opponent Terry McAuliffe responded to the new proposals. “All of Glenn Youngkin’s ‘plans’ have one thing in common: they would decimate funding for public schools and put Virginia’s economy squarely in the ditch Glenn loves to talk about,” said Christina Freundlich, a spokesperson for McAuliffe. “His Trumpian tax plan would blow a massive hole in our budget and lead to drastic cuts to public education and police. He’s called billions in funding for Virginia schools from the American Rescue Plan ‘unnecessary.’ And his latest ‘plan’ focuses on a scheme to siphon even more funding away from public schools. Unlike Glenn, Terry McAuliffe has laid out clear plans to move Virginia forward.” 

The Virginia General Assembly will be meeting on Aug. 2 to figure out how to spend most of this money, but the next governor will be in charge of implementing a new biennial budget that will have a surplus of at least $1 billion after rainy-day funds are taken out.

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By vascope