The Right Note: Now What?

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

Earlier this month, Gov. Ralph Northam vetoed legislation that would have provided more low-cost private sector health insurance options to Virginians. His rationale seemed to be that he was 100 percent focused on putting hundreds of thousands of Virginians on to Medicaid, and he did not want any distractions from that plan.

The governor won on his number one legislative priority yesterday. Of course, those who do not qualify for expanded Medicaid or have employer-provided coverage are still trapped in the low-option, high-cost Affordable Care Act exchanges.

For the past few years, Medicaid expansion has been the Democrats’ number one issue in elections. Now that they have it, what will they focus on next?

They could work with Republicans to develop a plan on how to make Virginia the best place to do business in America. Attracting new businesses, keeping existing ones and encouraging entrepreneurship is critical to a healthy financial future.

Virginia is ninth overall in the U.S. News and World Report ranking. Of course, any ranking that puts California as number one should be viewed as suspect. California is ranked 46th by U.S. News when it comes to the tax burden and the state is seeing an epidemic of out-migration, including losing the Nestlé headquarters to Arlington.

Virginia was fifth in Forbes for 2017, a ranking we held the top spot in for 2013. But we are 29th when it comes to business costs and 33rd for economic climate in this ranking. CNBC still has us seventh overall, but 35th when it comes to the cost of doing business. Chief Executive Magazine dropped us three spots to 15th overall in 2017. And as with the other ratings, our taxation and regulation scores (i.e. the cost of doing business) is dragging us down.

The Tax Foundation ranks our tax climate as 31st. According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, the tax burden on our corporations is only 30th best and our overall Economic Performance Rate over the past decade is ranked 23rd.

Virginia cannot buy our way to economic competitiveness with tax incentives to a select few companies. Our leaders have to get serious about creating an economic climate that is a magnet for all companies.

It is even more important than ever now because someone is going to have to pay the bills that come due when the cost of Medicaid expansion rises faster than the projections here in Virginia, like they did in every state that adopted expansion. Virginia, unlike the federal government, cannot just borrow money from other countries to pay for it.

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