Ed Gillespie Rally

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie addresses the crowd during a campaign rally at the Fredericksburg Expo Center on Wednesday night.

GROWING THE Virginia economy will create more jobs and generate more state revenue, which in turn will help solve the biggest problems now facing the commonwealth in the areas of transportation, education and health care. And the gubernatorial candidate most likely to advance economic growth in the state is Republican Ed Gillespie, which is why he has the FREE LANCE-STAR'S endorsement.

Throughout his campaign, Gillespie has emphasized the need for economic growth, pointing out that not so long ago, Virginia was the nation’s top business-friendly state. It’s now in the bottom half at No. 31, according to the Tax Foundation.

And in January, the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center reported that during the last three years, “more people have moved from Virginia to other states than have moved into the commonwealth.”

To improve Virginia’s business-friendly ranking and to end the out-migration of residents with college degrees to neighboring states, Gillespie is proposing a 10 percent reduction in the state income tax that scales back future—not current—spending, with $2 in tax relief for every $3 in increased spending.

Gillespie claims his proposal, which includes revenue triggers to protect core government services and the commonwealth’s AAA bond rating, will create 53,000 new jobs and increase state revenue by $3.4 billion.

That’s exactly what’s needed to keep Virginia competitive with its neighbors and to allow it to invest more money in transportation infrastructure, public education and health care for low-income Virginians.

Gillespie, a lobbyist and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was a counselor to President George W. Bush and the lead author of the GOP’s historic 1994 “Contract with America” that helped the Republican Party gain control of Congress for the first time in four decades. His proposals are sensible and pragmatic.

On transportation, the Fredericksburg region’s top issue, Gillespie supports a “lock box” for state transportation dollars—meaning that money appropriated for transportation could not be redirected elsewhere. He also told the Free Lance-Star that his friendly relationships with President Trump and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will help him secure more federal highway funding, which is the only way the hotspots on Interstate-95 will get fixed in the near future.

Gillespie also favors the expansion of public charter schools in Virginia to give parents more choice in the education of their children, and keeping tuition at the commonwealth’s public universities affordable for state residents.

Unlike his Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Gillespie is not in favor of expanding Medicaid, because of its future cost increases. But he does favor a state compact that would allow insurance companies in Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia to offer plans in Virginia and vice versa, encouraging innovation and competition.

Attracting and keeping businesses in the commonwealth and growing Virginia’s economy should be the next governor’s top priority. Gillespie not only understands this, he is well-suited to the challenges ahead.

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