The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Virginia Continues Move to Left

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On November 7, 2017, Virginians elevated Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam (D) to the governorship.  Democrats also won the other two statewide elected offices and, surprising most forecasters, picked up at least 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, bringing their total to 49 out of 100 seats, with three recounts likely taking place in December.

The implications of these Democratic gains are profound.  For one thing, Virginia’s House had not taken up the issue of Medicaid expansion when it was two-thirds Republican.  Now, if Democrats can peel off just a few Republican Delegates to join them in voting for expansion, the Commonwealth will bust its budget expanding Medicaid.  (The State Senate, which was not on the ballot this year, is also in Republican hands by one vote, but it is likely that at least one Republican Senator would vote for expanded Medicaid.)  If Virginia joins the states that have expanded Medicaid away from its original purpose, the price and consequences will be steep for the state’s budget, taxes, and healthcare outcomes.

The 2017 elections could also affect energy development in Virginia.  Governor-elect Northam has steadfastly opposed oil and gas exploration off Virginia’s coast, and he supports the destructive and costly practice of allowing localities to ban fracking.  The governor-elect has been a part of an administration that has supported wasteful green energy boondoggles like Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, and has received large campaign contributions from progressive organizations supporting policies that increase energy prices for consumers while handing millions to “clean energy” companies.  Some freshmen Democrats elected to the House of Delegates ran campaigns that demonized Dominion Energy, which supplies electricity to the Commonwealth.

There are other threats posed to Virginia’s economy by Democratic gains.  Governor-elect Northam supports a $15 an hour minimum wage, more than double the current Virginia minimum wage.  In cities that have raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour, jobs disappear for those trying to climb the economic ladder.  And the governor-elect comes dangerously close to proposing a government-owned broadband network in rural Virginia, comparing his plan to Minnesota’s.  There, the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband asked for $200 million in 2015, only to ask for another $110 million in 2017, with deadlines missed and rural Minnesotans no closer to better internet service.  In more populous Virginia, the bill would likely be higher.

Virginia taxpayers should, as always, demand accountability from their elected officials and pay attention to how their money is spent in Richmond.  With the House of Delegates moving towards an agenda of big spending, oversight will be more critical than ever before.

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