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Youngkin stumps for budget vetoes

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(The Center Square) — It may not be campaign season, but it certainly felt like it on Monday afternoon at a cafe in Chesapeake.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin isn’t campaigning for reelection (governors can only serve one consecutive term in the commonwealth), but he is rallying support for his and Republican efforts to shut down Democratic initiatives in the General Assembly’s “backward” budget.

“The reality is, this budget is not just backwards, but it literally undermines the tenets to the success that we have had over the last two years,” Youngkin said.

Youngkin went on to explain what he opposes in the budget. To broaden Virginia’s tax base, it implements an individual and business-to-business tax on digital goods and services – like downloads, streaming services and software programs. Youngkin had included this in his “Unleashing Opportunity” budget proposal, introduced in December, but he also included tax reforms to offset the $2.6 billion in new taxes.

“And the worst is, it’s a sales tax increase, and so it hits those Virginians who can afford it the least the most. Tax experts call that regressive,” Youngkin said.

Democrats have also attempted in the budget to revive the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a collective effort among several Eastern states to regulate and reduce carbon emissions from power plants. States cap the emissions plants can produce and sell carbon credits to utility companies. If companies exceed their allowances, they pay the state a fine. The state can reinvest those funds in green energy and climate change projects.

Youngkin pushed for removing the commonwealth from the Initiative, but Democrats want Virginia back in. If Virginia rejoins, utility companies will likely raise prices to cover the increased costs, which Youngkin estimates will be about $300 million annually.

“We’ve gone to work in order to bring electric prices down the last two years and low and behold, in 60 days, [Democrats] want to put $600 million of taxes back on your electricity bill.”

Democrats notoriously did not include funding for the governor’s entertainment district proposal with Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. The governor is adamant this, along with funding cuts for site development, undercuts the growth and prosperity of the state. He called the arena deal the “single-best economic development project in the history of the commonwealth.”

“We’d bring two sports teams to Alexandria … and the proceeds from that initiative fund projects all over the commonwealth.”

Youngkin blamed the Senate for “playing politics” instead of assessing the deal by its merits because it didn’t study the proposal like the House did, according to the governor.

He claimed Democrats also reduced allocations for school resource officers, law enforcement officers, typically armed, who work at schools to help keep students safe.

The governor concluded by imploring those present to share the message with their legislators and friends.

“There are two visions for the commonwealth… There’s the vision that I just described… completely founded in the basic truths that jobs are a good thing,” Youngkin said. “More jobs unleashes not only the dignity of the human spirit, but also prosperity.

Their vision for the commonwealth is to tax everything they possibly can to, in fact, squelch economic development opportunities so that people are more dependent. And we’re not going there.”

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