Is Virginia a Paragon of Republican Leadership?
President Obama and Democrats are making their closing statements today, warning voters that the GOP has plans to win, but no plan to govern after Tuesday's midterm election. The Washington Post looks to Virginia, helmed by Republican Governor Robert McDonnell, and finds voters "ecstatic" about his leadership, and the state's newly minted surplus:
Voters, including some who didn't back him, credited Gov. Robert F. McDonnell with working hard and engineering deep budget cuts from a generally fractious General Assembly with relatively little heartache. The result of those efforts was a narrow surplus by the end of the fiscal year, achieved through bipartisan action and without the tax increase that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine proposed before leaving office.
Credit goes to McDonnell for balancing cash flow without tax increases, but the WaPo story misses a key part of Virginia's story, which is the state's relative stability in sales and individual taxes due to the state's relatively stable income.
As I wrote here, only three metro areas in the country experienced increases in both real income and net earnings over the last year: San Antonio, the larger D.C area, and Virginia Beach. That means that Virginia's four most populous cities -- Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Arlington -- are in the top percentile for earnings stability since the bust.
Thank the Capitol. Northern Virginia avoided the tsunami by hiding under the umbrella of overall government spending, and military is the largest employer in Virginia Beach and Norfolk metro areas. So yes, Virginia has benefited from capable budget stewards. It's also benefited from living under the broad wings of Washington, D.C.