The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Virginia ranked 12th for Economic Outlook when compared to the other 49 states in the latest “Rich States, Poor States” study released by the American Legislative Exchange Council. It does not sound too bad — holding on to a spot in the top 25 percent of the nation.
The study looks at 15 factors, from labor policies to tax rates that historically predict economic success. But, it looks like we may be headed in the wrong direction in the Commonwealth.
Last year, Virginia ranked 11th. The year before Governor McAuliffe took office, we were fifth.
The governor can take some of the responsibility for the decline. So too can the Democrats who controlled the Virginia Senate from the 2007 elections until the resignation of Sen. Puckett last year. But, Republicans have firmly held sway over the House of Delegates for some time and shared in the policy-making decisions that brought us to this point.
Some may discount this ranking because ALEC is known as a conservative organization. So, how do we fare in other rankings for comparison?
In Forbes latest ranking, Virginia took the fourth spot overall in best states to do business. However, if you look at the portion of the ranking called “Growth Prospects” we ranked 33rd.
CNBC ranked us in a tie for eighth, but down three spots from the year before.
Chief Executive ranked us at 11th, down four spots from the year before.
Virginia is by no means in dire straits, but the trendline in these rankings should concern us. Our governor and General Assembly certainly have work to do if our goal is to be No. 1.
In the Chief Executive study, one CEO was quoted as saying, “Virginia has a significant level of local taxes, particularly in jurisdictions in Northern Virginia that constantly nick away at profitability. While the state tax structure is low, the business property taxes, taxes on gross business income and other related taxes of the local jurisdictions eat away at [revenue].”
Arlington Board Members have publicly recognized the fact that we cannot count on federal government spending to fuel future local economic growth. The proximity to our nation’s capital will always be our home court advantage but new businesses do take note of how our local taxing decisions impact their bottom line.
It is past time to make Arlington a more inviting place for businesses to locate. First step for the Board, ignore the calls for a property tax rate increase. Next step, get rid of the BPOL.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.