Growing the Economy for all Virginians
In Virginia, we are blessed with extensive natural resources, fertile farmland, a strong manufacturing base, a hard-working and highly-skilled population, a first-class education system, and an economy that has shown areas of resiliency since the recession.
But too many Virginians and communities are being left behind. The Great Recession and even the recovery have deepened inequality among Virginians. Jobs in manufacturing and construction have been slow to return, and unemployment in our southern and western counties is two or three times higher than in the north of the state, where cost of living is pushing many families into longer and longer commutes as wages stagnate. Automation and the consolidation of corporate power are costing Virginians jobs and economic security. These threats will be even greater in the coming years. In today’s economy, it is not enough to aim for growth – it must be inclusive growth.
These challenges are made worse by political dysfunction that results from the Republicans’ radical gerrymandering of the state, limiting our ability to raise wages, invest in infrastructure or adapt to economic problems. We must tackle these challenges head on. From the farmers in the Southwest to the tech entrepreneurs in Northern Virginia to manufacturers in Richmond, we need to grow Virginia’s economy faster, and we need to make sure that workers see some of the benefits from Virginia’s growth. We need to ensure that no family, community or region is left behind.
I believe that we do this not only by attracting business to our state, but by prioritizing growth from the ground up and the middle out. As Governor, I will support our entrepreneurs and small business owners to create the next great Virginia companies. And I will dedicate myself to fostering new promising industries like renewable energy technology and energy efficiency. When small businesses thrive, money goes back into local communities instead of being consolidated in the hands of a few far away from our state. That’s why, when I was in Congress, I fought to shift our priorities from bailing out banks to investing in infrastructure and clean energy jobs. And that’s why, as governor of Virginia, it will be my mission to grow the economy in a way that benefits all Virginians.
But it’s not enough to just talk about more jobs, because we know that not all jobs are created equal. As governor, I will fight for every Virginian to have not just a job but a good job, with good wages, a sense of security, and the flexibility and support they need to balance work with family – at every skill level. I will work with our companies, universities and vocational schools to close the skills gap and equip Virginians for the middle-class jobs of the 21st century.
I also believe that working Virginians deserve a raise. Our current minimum wage of $7.25 hasn’t been raised since 2009; we lag behind our neighbors in Maryland and West Virginia, both of which have higher wage rates. As Governor, I will fight to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. In addition, as Governor I will push to make the state Earned Income Tax Credit refundable, to help ensure that families working full-time are not living in poverty.
Virginians also should have the ability to balance their jobs with their family lives. As Governor, I will support paid medical and family leave so that Virginian families have the flexibility to raise families and take care of themselves in times of hardship.