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Tipsheet

Gov. Northam's Remaining Proposals Are Looking A Lot Like Plans His Successor Has, and People Are Noticing

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) officially has less than four weeks left in office, as Gov.-Elect Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, is to be inaugurated on January 15, 2022. Last week, Brandon Jarvis of Virginia Scope noted that "Northam’s outgoing proposals are reminiscent of Youngkin’s campaign promises," raising some curious points about what kind of note the lame duck governor is trying to end things on. 

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Jarvis referenced a Tuesday announcement from the governor. In a news release detailing "Governor Northam Continues ‘Thank You, Virginia’ Tour, Announces Tax Reduction for Working Virginians," several proposals are laid out including:

  • "Eliminating the state sales tax on groceries"
  • "Providing an income tax cut for working families"
  • "Offering one-time 'economic growth rebates'"
  • "Ending 'accelerated sales tax' payments for retailers"

Such points are curious ones, as they were part of then candidate Youngkin's platform. Youngkin even did a memorable ad featuring himself where he pledged to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries.

The only hint of the news release referencing Youngkin and his incoming administration is a statement from Gov. Northam:

“When Virginia cuts taxes next year, it should be done in a way that benefits working people,” said Governor Northam. “Many professionals made it through the pandemic fine, as their work simply moved online. But workers haven’t been so lucky when their jobs require close contact with other people. Some jobs simply can’t move online—restaurant workers, early childhood educators, home care attendants, and others—and we all depend on the people who do this work. Virginia can help working people by eliminating the state grocery tax, providing one-time rebates, and giving a tax break to people who are working.”

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Northam's news release references how "Governor Northam first proposed eliminating this regressive tax on low-income individuals when he ran for Governor in 2017," though he will have been in office almost four years now before it comes to fruition. 

The only potential explanation for why it wasn't done sooner is an explanation as to why it's being done now. "Virginia’s unprecedented economic strength now makes this possible. The state grocery tax is 1.5%. Most states do not tax groceries. This proposal does not affect local revenues," that bullet point continues. 

As Jarvis mentioned, "However, during his term as governor and on the campaign trail this year when he joined Youngkin’s opponent Terry McAuliffe, Northam never mentioned it."

Further, these proposals, as Jarvis pointed out, "are largely symbolic," considering the House of Delegates reconvenes on January 13 and Youngkin will be sworn in on January 15. Republicans will also hold a 52-48 majority in the body. 

Jarvis included statements from Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter, who notes these proposals don't go far enough:

“We appreciate the Northam administration laying the foundation for these elements of the Day One game plan so that Governor-Elect Youngkin can hit the ground running on January 15th to begin executing on his key campaign promises and finish the job,” said Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin, after Northam’s revealed his plan for these tax cuts. 

...

Porter says that Youngkin appreciated Northam’s efforts, but his plans do not go as far as the governor-elect wants them to. “Governor-elect Youngkin campaigned on reducing the cost of living, fully funding our law enforcement personnel, raising teacher pay, increasing HBCU funding, expanding broadband access, and eliminating the grocery tax for all Virginians as part of his Day One game plan, Virginians throughout the Commonwealth overwhelmingly embraced those ideals. Governor Northam’s budget proposal is a step in the right direction but does not entirely fulfill Virginians’ mandate.”

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Speaker-designee C. Todd Gilbert quipped that "Now we know what it takes to get Virginia Democrats to propose cutting taxes — losing to a Republican."

There were other potential last-minute policy changes in the mix as well, though these would have been in stark contrast to Youngkin's pro-life platform. As Reid J. Epstein and Lisa Lerer reported for The New York Times on Friday, some state senators wanted to codify pro-abortion into state law. The only reason it's not likely to happen, though, is because too many lawmakers are out of town.

The state legislature is currently controlled by pro-abortion Democrats, in addition to Northam occupying the governor's mansion. Northam made headlines in early 2019 for endorsing infanticide during a radio program when he said that if born alive from an abortion, "the infant would be kept comfortable" and only "resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired."

During his term in office, Northam also signed legislation that rolled back commonsense pro-life safety regulations and legislation that repealed ban of abortion coverage for carriers on state health exchange plans, which will ultimately lead to taxpayer funded abortions.

Americans United for Life (AUL) put Virginia in the bottom half of most pro-life states, placing it as the 31st state in its 2022 Life List. 

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