Leahy: An Open Letter to Virginia Republicans
Dear Virginia Republicans:
First off, congratulations. The victories your candidates won for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and — recounts pending — in reclaiming control of the House of Delegates are genuine accomplishments. Enjoy the short honeymoon that will last right up until the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
Then, all bets are off. You will have to show the voters, rural and suburban, who entrusted you with the political power you now hold that you are capable of handling it.
In other words, don’t get cocky and don’t think you have a mandate. Keep the MAGA hats under the seat in the truck — or better yet, unload them on eBay — and stick to a few key things.
One of those: Carry out the governor-elect’s tax program. State coffers are bursting with cash the likes of which even seasoned budget hands have never seen. The state’s various trust funds — for rainy days, water quality and such — will claim their constitutionally mandated share.
But using the rest to splurge on more government is not what you were elected to do. That’s what Democrats (and if we’re honest, plenty of Republicans) do.
Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin eventually got around to adding tax cuts to his campaign agenda, and the list of proposals included one — repealing the tax on groceries — that should be an easy win.
Virginia is one of 13 states that taxes groceries, and ending the 2.5 percent levy will not break the bank. Repealing this regressive tax isn’t just the right thing to do, but it also puts Republicans on the side of the OG Virginia progressive, Henry Howell, who not only fought to keep the big boys honest but also tried to repeal the grocery tax.
What about the other big election issue: education? Speaker-designate Todd Gilbert (Shenandoah) says education and school choice are the top issues on the agenda. We’ve been here before, with Republicans controlling statewide offices and the General Assembly, and school choice went nowhere.