Tomorrow’s Ballot Question: Will Virginia Become Illinois?

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It was reported this week that billionaire Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker had made substantial campaign contributions totaling $250,000 to four liberal Democrats running for Virginia State Senate and the Democratic Party of Virginia.  These donations, made through Governor Pritzker’s “Think Big America” organization, are the clearest sign yet that the left wants to turn the Commonwealth of Virginia into an Illinois of the East.

Truthfully, the governing philosophies in Illinois and Virginia could not be more different.  State and local government spending per capita in Illinois is higher than in Virginia.  Illinois has a higher overall tax burden than Virginia, and Illinois has a substantially higher unionization rate than Virginia.  In fact, about one in seven workers in Illinois are unionized, while only one in 22 workers in Virginia are unionized.  Illinois also has a higher minimum wage than Virginia.  So, what does Illinois get with its higher taxes, higher spending, higher minimum wage, and higher unionization?  A worse state.

In fact, Illinois has a higher poverty rate and higher unemployment rate than Virginia.  Illinois also has a higher violent crime rate and higher property crime rate than Virginia.  Illinois doesn’t fully fund its pensions and thus has the highest unfunded state pension liability in the country ($210b), while Virginia has one of the lowest unfunded liabilities ($18.5b).  Illinois has only funded about half of its pension obligations, while Virginia has funded almost 90 percent of its obligations.  Illinois is notorious for its political corruption and it regularly sends its governors to prison.  Not surprisingly, Illinois also has one of the highest net migration rates to other states.  This means that Illinois loses 22 out of every 1,000 people every year when they leave for a better state, compared to only 3.45 per thousand who leave Virginia.

Under Governors Northam and McAuliffe, Virginia was well on its way to becoming Illinois.  With their passage of collective bargaining for public employees, the passage of draconian and impossible-to-reach carbon targets, and an increased minimum wage, the left was getting its wish.  Fortunately, the Commonwealth put a stop to this drift with the election of Governor Youngkin — who in just two years has cut more taxes ($5b) than the previous two governors combined, has led Virginia to one of the highest job growths in the country, and is battling to reverse the economic impacts of the green extremists.

Tomorrow’s election offers voters a clear choice:  Voters can choose a Virginia sustained by the enduring vision of Governor Youngkin’s “Spirit of (a free) Virginia”, or a pale imitation of Illinois Governor Pritzker’s “Think Big (government) America.  The stakes are high and which way they choose will decide the course of Virginia’s economy for the next decade, at least.

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