Jobs and Economic Growth
By enacting pro-growth policies in Richmond, the Commonwealth of Virginia has been ranked by Forbes magazine and others in recent years as a top state in which to do business. These policies include maintaining low levels of taxation and regulation, protecting our “Right-to-Work” status that gives workers the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union, keeping the “Dillon Rule” that streamlines state policy and prevents a burdensome patchwork of tax and regulatory systems from spreading across the Commonwealth, and keeping spending low so future generations aren’t left with our burdensome debt.
Business needs a stable regulatory environment that encourages investment and growth. Lower taxes means more money for Virginia families and fewer of our dollars going to Richmond. As your delegate, one of my primary goals has been to help working families in our part of Virginia by encouraging economic growth and job creation. I am constantly working with the private sector to keep our economy moving, maintaining tax rates at low levels, and opposing the big government spending proposals that are counterproductive to economic growth.
Government Reform and Transparency
As Virginians and tax-paying citizens, we want to ensure our government is working for us. In an effort to reform state government and encourage transparency and accountability, I have fought to shine a spotlight on wasteful spending and am always seeking ways to make government programs work more efficiently.
In 2009, I patroned legislation to increase budget transparency and find additional cost savings in government by expanding access for citizens to budget information through a user-friendly online database. In 2012, I patroned bi-partisan legislation that provides a 5-year sunset provision on state tax credits. This past General Assembly session, I sponsored tort reform legislation that codifies Virginia’s current trespass liability case law. Measures like this will reduce costly and unnecessary lawsuits, streamline the litigation process, protect the integrity of the tort system, and reduce legal costs for Virginia businesses.
Virginia invests heavily in creating and supporting a well-qualified workforce. We maintain the best education system in the world, whether it is providing a strong foundation at the K-12 level, providing advanced job training at our community colleges, or encouraging innovative new research at our public colleges and universities.
Locally, I have been working to attract jobs to our region by improving our area job training programs. I have worked with our local officials and our community colleges to locate new satellite branches of CVCC and Dabney Lancaster Community College in Amherst and Buena Vista. I also have worked to enact legislation to provide scholarships for community college students who want to continue their studies at four-year colleges. Securing a top-quality education for our students will ensure a highly-trained workforce for local employers, and it will help keep our young people from being forced to leave this area to find work.
I believe that the focus of education should be learning, not administrative bureaucracy. We need to make sure the money spent in schools gets to the classroom where it can impact results because nothing less than the future of children is at stake. For this reason, I sponsored legislation in 2012 to require two-thirds of all education dollars go toward the classroom.
For Virginia to encourage economic development and attract large employers to our region, we need to maintain one of the most comprehensive transportation infrastructure networks in the nation by investing in our system of roads, rail, airports, and seaports. That’s why I have supported legislation to dedicate a greater portion of General Fund revenues to transportation, as well as a “Lock Box” constitutional amendment to secure revenues for transportation.
Transportation is a core function of government and in my role on the I-81 Corridor Coalition Steering Committee as well as co-chair of the I-81 Caucus, I have often led the discussion to encourage improvements in Virginia and along the I-81 corridor. As your Delegate, I am committed to improving our regional transportation infrastructure and have long advocated for efforts to improve safety, reduce congestion, and promote long-term economic growth along the I-81 corridor. I helped improve safety by putting more troopers on I-81 and by establishing the I-81 Safety Committee within VDOT in 2003, helped obtain funds for targeted widening projects along congested stretches of I-81 in places like Lexington to Fairfield and at the Buffalo Creek crossing, and established the Rail Enhancement Fund for multi-modal improvements to rail lines that divert traffic from truck freight to rail along I-81 and Route 29. Keeping this vital economic corridor flowing safely and efficiently will help our part of Virginia attract employers and improve the quality of life for local residents.
In recent years, funding transportation has proven increasingly challenging, though the need for a meaningful and long-term transportation solution is clear. Unfortunately, however, I could not support the most recent transportation tax increases passed by the General Assembly. In addition to including tax increases on gas, sales, homes, and cars, HB 2313 lacks a “Lock Box” to prevent transportation revenues from being diverted to other purposes.
Another way I have supported economic development and job creation has been to sponsor several new laws to improve public safety in Virginia. When families are safe, kids can focus more on school, parents can focus more on work, and neighborhoods and communities can thrive. I have sponsored bills to fight gang violence, elder abuse, and ID theft, among others. As an assistant prosecutor, I see on a daily basis the impact that our police, sheriffs’ deputies, and fire and rescue companies have on our economy and on the ability of our businesses and individuals to succeed. I support making sure our public safety professionals have the tools and training they need to protect effectively. Safe communities mean productive communities, and productive communities mean better jobs. Without safe neighborhoods, no efforts in education or job creation will be successful.
Sanctity of Life
I strongly believe that we should live in a society that promotes and protects the sanctity of human life. I believe that life begins at conception and as the sponsor of legislation to ban embryonic stem-cell research, I will continue to support the protection of innocent life.
I support and defend the Second Amendment rights of Americans and believe that law-abiding citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. I believe that the right to keep and bear arms is one of the most important rights that we have, and as the sponsor of legislation to remove local fingerprint requirements for concealed-carry permits, I will continue to fight to protect that right for all of Virginia’s law-abiding citizens.
To bring down energy costs, I have opposed efforts by local electric utilities to raise their rates on homes and businesses. I have also opposed efforts to raise the state gas tax, which would unfairly hurt rural areas where businesses and families have to travel greater distances to work, shop, or go to school. Instead, I support additional energy exploration in Virginia that will lower energy costs by increasing supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas, including exploration off our coastal areas. I also support tax incentives for the development of alternative fuels, including solar, wind, and bio-fuels. I believe Virginia’s resources should be utilized to maximize our energy production, including nuclear power. By lowering energy costs for families and businesses, we can help attract employers who will create new jobs.
As I continue to travel around the 24th District talking to folks about the issues that are important to them, I realize we have many priorities from jobs to energy and everything in between. As your Delegate, I will continue to make your priorities mine in Richmond, and I remain committed to making Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family.
|Paid for and authorized by Ben Cline for Delegate.|