Vexit? Nix It!

Somewhere this morning I read about one of the southwestern county supervisors adding the #Vexit issue to the meeting agenda and, though I cannot remember at the moment which county it was (I’ve scanned literally dozens of news stories this morning), the fact remains that someone is willing to try and jump-start that knee-jerk idea.

If you haven’t heard, #Vexit is West Virginia’s “invitation” to any Virginia counties who are unhappy with laws that have been passed by our new Democratically-controlled legislature. Its roots are during the Civil War years when West Virginia split from Virginia over a difference in opinion.

Ahh … here it is. Tazewell County has the issue on their agenda for tonight’s meeting, as noted by reporter Charles Boothe in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

The “Vexit” question is on the agenda for tonight’s meeting of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors.

Vexit means “Virginia exit,” as residents of some counties in Virginia have discussed leaving the state and becoming part of West Virginia.

In my morning reading, I came across the Inter-Mountain News, published in West Virginia, and thought it interesting what reporter Steven Allen Adams wrote about the issue, posing the question of whether West Virginia would really want to add more turf to its already overloaded and underfunded land mass. Mr. Adams wrote:

… do we really want this?

Sure, adding new counties would mean more taxpayers. In a state that’s about to lose a congressional district, it’s an easy way to add population. But honestly those are the only two benefits of which I can think.

Let’s take Tazewell, Bland, Buchanan or Giles counties in Virginia for example. Let’s say they have been allowed to join West Virginia. These counties have many of the same problems as the rest of Southern West Virginia, including declining coal production. We haven’t been able to solve these challenges for the counties we have now.

What about their roads? We are struggling to take care of the road we have. Virginia rural roads are notoriously bad. What about the county school systems? Won’t those teachers be taking a pay cut to work in their new West Virginia county? What about tax structure? I could go on, but my point is there would be a lot of issues to work out.

This isn’t the 1800s anymore, folks.

Today the Richmond Times-Dispatch has opined on the issue, noting:

Most Virginians are chuckling at the ridiculous idea dubbed “Vexit2020.” West Virginia is a lovely state, of course, but it has more than its share of problems. A Winchester resident told us the move would be akin to Britain leaving the European Union to join Belarus.

My friend Chris Graham, who owns and publishes Augusta Free Press, did some research on the money part of this equation and came up with some pretty convincing reasons why it could be a financial death spiral for Virginia counties to split from the Old Dominion. Chris wrote:

The odd part to the pitch came from [West Virginia Republican Governor Jim] Justice.

Dude wants folks on the east side of the border to think West Virginia is prosperous.

“We have thousands of good-paying, high-quality jobs just waiting to be filled,” said Justice, whose state has a current unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, which is fine, and also significantly higher than the 2.6 percent unemployment rate in Virginia.

But, I mean, fake news, left-leaning liberal media fact-checking a patriot, right?

“Our state supports personal freedom and we value the Second Amendment and the rights of the unborn. Come join us. You will never regret it,” Justice said.

There’s your money quote.

Again, fact-checking, there is this additional not-all-that-miraculous economic reality: median household income in West Virginia is $44,097.

Compared to median household income in Virginia: $71,535.

I guess to be fair, we have Northern Virginia, and West Virginia is West Virginia.

Look up at Fairfax County, for instance. Median household income there is, gulp, $122,227.

Need to factor that out to get a better apples-to-apples.

How about Augusta County? Median household income here: $61,305.

I did checks of other locales along the Interstate 81 corridor to get a wider sense, and the only one that comes in higher than ours here is Frederick County, where the median household income is an impressive $73,250, though everywhere else – from Rockbridge to Rockingham to Shenandoah – was in the $54,000-plus range, so, all good.

You do the math, and you see that if our part of the I-81 corridor were to float over to West Virginia, we’d be their Northern Virginia, which, news flash, that’s not a good thing.

Because our Northern Virginia is the part of the state where people pay higher local and state taxes to pay for the stuff that we can’t afford for ourselves.

Sorry, folks, but if the Shenandoah Valley decided to become part of West Virginia, I’d have to move back home to Richmond where I grew up. That’s not a slam at West Virginia — I’ve snow skied there, camped there, roamed more back roads than you would believe exist, and love the mountain landscape.

But … it’s West Virginia. I’m a Virginian like my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents. My heart is right here in the Commonwealth. No #Vexit for me.

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