RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)–Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin outlined his roadmap for economic growth at the 2021 Virginia Economic Summit and Forum on World Trade.
Youngkin’s speech on Friday was part of the Virginia Chamber’s release of “Blueprint Virginia 2030.” The report is a plan of action for economic development that outlines challenges and projects goals ahead of each new governor’s term. More than 7,000 Virginians offered recommendations for it during a series of regional tours over the last 12 months.
After announcing that he got his booster shot on Friday morning, Youngkin promised to end the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 shutdowns.
“Virginia will be open for business. We’re going to put an end to the fears that a lock down is coming because there will not be one and we will end anti-business policies,” Youngkin said.
Youngkin outlined his plan to address what the new report found is the business community’s top priority across every region: improving workforce development. Asked if Virginia is doing a good job preparing the workforce that businesses need, nearly a quarter of respondents disagreed.
Youngkin set various goals to address that, including offering career and technical education in every public school, expanding access to credential programs and increasing higher education partnerships with the private sector.
“We need a statewide vision for building Virginia’s talent supply to make sure it aligns with the future and current needs of business,” Youngkin said.
Youngkin focused on expanding broadband and Virginia’s energy capacity. He reiterated plans to slash business regulations. He also committed to support legislation that would allow small businesses to band together to offer healthcare benefits that are competitive with larger employers.
“When that bill comes to my desk, I will sign it,” Youngkin said.
The Governor-elect added that Virginia must lower its cost of living to attract and retain talent by suspending the gas tax, eliminating the grocery tax, doubling the standard dedication, providing a one-time tax rebate and exempting a portion of veterans’ retirement from taxation.
“Based on many many discussions these are becoming bipartisan issues so I encourage Northam to include these in his two-year budget,” Youngkin said. “For too long, Richmond has thought the best source of sustainable government revenue is higher taxes. I fundamentally disagree.”
A spokesperson for Gov. Ralph Northam responded in a statement.
Governor Northam is proud of Virginia’s roaring economy, and it’s good to see the Governor-elect acknowledge that fact. Governor Northam’s careful fiscal management has resulted in the largest surplus in Virginia history, recognition as the best state for business three years running, and a record amount of savings in state financial reserves. I would note that these proposals are far from new—Governor Northam ran on eliminating the grocery tax during his 2017 campaign for Governor, and he has worked during his term to make this a financial possibility. The Governor is still in the process of budget development, and will be rolling out historic proposals over the coming days.Alena Yarmosky, spokesperson for Gov. Ralph Northam