Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is running to be the next governor of the commonwealth, has suggested a variety of policy changes, which could cost the average Virginia family about $5,400 each, according to a new report.
The report, published by the free-market Thomas Jefferson Institute, analyzed McAuliffe’s plans for education, economics, entrepreneurship, COVID-19 and healthcare. It concluded Virginia’s operating budget spending would increase by more than $8.3 billion, its general fund would increase by more than $7.6 billion and its non-general fund would increase by more than $678,000.
It’s not clear how the state would pay for the new programs, but if the costs are completely offset by taxes, the think tank found it would be the largest tax increase in the state’s history.
“McAuliffe proposes leveraging and drawing down federal dollars to pay for his proposed policies,” the report noted. “When this information was publicly available, savings to the General and Non-General Fund were assessed. McAuliffe has not proposed a new revenue source, whether taxes or debt.”
According to the report, proposals related to COVID-19 spending would consist of mostly one-time spending related to vaccination efforts, contract tracing and pharmaceutical manufacturing, among other things. Other plans that would consist of one-time expenditures include fully funding some of the 2019 Proposed Standards of Quality and money for community colleges.
Most of the funding proposals, however, would establish long term spending programs that would continue to cost Virginia taxpayers money throughout his term and long after. This includes state employee collective bargaining, accelerated minimum wage increases, expanding the Medicaid Buy-In program and more spending for home care workers.
The most expensive proposal would be to allow state government employees to engage in collective bargaining, the report found. If implemented, this would cost the state more than $1.87 billion itself. Collective bargaining allows unions to provide exclusive representation in contract negotiations over a particular group of workers. This often leads to increased wages and benefits for workers and subsequently increased costs for taxpayers.
Virginia lawmakers passed legislation that allows local governments to approve collective bargaining rights for their workers, but failed to pass proposals that would grant these rights more broadly to public workers. The report noted McAuliffe has signaled support for providing all state employees with these protections.
Other proposals include increasing teacher pay, investing in mentorship programs, expanding the Virginia Preschool Initiative, requiring paid sick days and medical leave, reducing the burden of student loan debt, implementing a state reinsurance program and providing financial assistance to help people afford health care premiums.