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Youngkin's plan to end state income tax would 'decimate' Virginia, study shows

The Republican gubernatorial nominee has said he’d like to get rid of Virginia’s income tax entirely.

By Josh Israel - September 14, 2021
Glenn Youngkin

Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin has said in the past that he’d like to get rid of the state’s income tax entirely.

Now, a new analysis finds that doing so could “decimate health care, education, and public safety” in the state.

Research by the progressive Center for American Progress Action Fund finds that such a move would reduce Virginia’s biennial revenue by about $31.5 billion — roughly 72% of the state’s general fund revenue.

“Abolishing the state income tax would cause a $31.5 billion revenue hole that Youngkin has not explained how he would fill,” the analysis, which estimates what such cuts would look like “if applied evenly to Virginia’s general fund,” reads.

Were that revenue to be eliminated without some sort of offset, it would mean $14 billion less for education, $10.3 billion less for health and human services, and $3.2 billion less for homeland security and public safety.

Those cuts could also mean $7 billion less for 1.8 million Virginians enrolled in Medicaid and a 63% cut for the state’s eight adult mental hospitals. They could also mean $139 million less for police budgets — despite Youngkin’s stated promise to “defend — not defund — our law enforcement heroes” and to “rescue our failing mental health system.”

The report concludes, “Glenn Youngkin’s income tax elimination would eviscerate vital public services in Virginia. Without state income tax revenue, significant job losses will follow. Without a state income tax, K-12 education, universities, mental and physical health services and public safety including the police would all face significant cuts…all ordinary Virginians would be left significantly worse off.”

Reached for comment on Tuesday, a Youngkin spokesperson said, “Glenn Youngkin is not proposing to eliminate the state income tax. In other news, a new study shows Terry McAuliffe is a total fraud.”

In April, Youngkin told a conservative radio host that he was “absolutely focused on not just getting our income tax down, but how we can, in fact, eliminate it.”

In another interview that month, he bragged about collaborating with senior economic adviser Stephen Moore — former President Donald Trump’s one-time Federal Reserve board pick who has infamously written about the dangers of women earning more than men — on a plan to “figure out how to get our taxes down. And we’re targeting on getting them down to zero because we need to compete (with other states).”

Since winning the nomination in May, Youngkin has been more vague about his plans, suggesting in August that while it was an “aspirational” goal to get rid of the state’s income tax, he did not believe doing so completely would be feasible.

In late August, he proposed some immediate tax cuts — while his campaign reiterated that he still would like to eliminate the income tax entirely someday.

Youngkin’s Democratic opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, has by contrast proposed a $2 billion annual investment in education.

“We can’t afford to let Glenn Youngkin put [his] disastrous plan into action,” McAuliffe told The American Independent Foundation in an email. “The numbers tell the story: Glenn’s Trumpian economic plan would decimate funding for education and public safety, and flat out be a job killer in the Commonwealth.”

Virginia, currently governed by term-limited Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and a Democratic-controlled state legislature, was named “America’s Top State for Business” by CNBC in July. The network’s analysis noted that the state’s public K-12 schools “perform well in terms of test scores, and a world-class higher education system is reliably funded.”

The gubernatorial election is set to be held on Nov. 2, with early voting beginning Sept. 17.

This story has been updated with a comment from the Youngkin campaign.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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