- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 29, 2021

Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin pledged $1.5 billion in tax relief from the state’s budget surplus Thursday while unveiling his state budget plan in Richmond.

Mr. Youngkin, who said he wants to prioritize spending on education, small businesses, and public safety, is also proposing that the state allocate $4.3 billion granted to Virginia by the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan into such areas.

“Democrats have overtaxed Virginians,” states a layout of his plan shared with The Washington Times. “Virginia has run a surplus while the challenges of the pandemic are causing deficits for families.”

The first-time candidate, running against Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is proposing a one-year suspension of state gas-tax hikes, provide $500 to each public school student for them to spend on “educational recovery” from the pandemic, and provide a $5,000 retention bonus to law enforcement agents to slow the rate of police turnover.

The individual tax refunds for Virginians would amount to $300, while families would receive $600.

The governor’s race is tight, with a July poll indicating that Mr. McAuliffe carried just a two-point lead over Mr. Youngkin. The poll, conducted by the nonpartisan Trafalgar Group, surveyed 1,104 people and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.87 percentage points.

Mr. McAuliffe has campaigned on reinvigorating a post-COVID economy for the state.

The Democrat, who served as the state’s governor from 2014 to 2018, promises to invest $2 billion annually in education, including initiatives to expand internships and work experience opportunities for students.

Mr. McAuliffe is also proposing a $15 minimum wage by 2024, and investing in small businesses with a special focus on those that are minority-owned.

Virginia law bars governors from running for consecutive terms, but allows former governors to run again.

A Republican has not held the governor’s office since 2014, and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report currently lists the race as being “lean Democrat.”

Election Day is Nov. 2.

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