GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin unveiled a long list of policy priorities prominently featuring tax breaks alongside spending on law enforcement and schools in his “Day One Game Plan.” His Monday announcement in Falls Church also included a declaration that he would ban Critical Race Theory (CRT) from being taught in schools or used in teacher training, and he said he wouldn’t implement COVID-19 shutdowns.

“I will not allow COVID lock downs to ever occur in Virginia again,” Youngkin said to loud cheers and applause from the crowd.

Youngkin’s proposal focuses on five categories: “Cutting costs for families; Keeping our communities safe; Reinvigorating job growth; Restoring excellence in education; and Making government work.”

Tax policy details include eliminating a 2.5 percent grocery tax, a 12-month suspension of the recent gas tax increase, requiring voter approval before property taxes increase and cutting income taxes by doubling the standard deduction. Youngkin’s plan would protect qualified immunity, and work to address Virginia’s mental health system crisis.

His education policy includes several spending items including creating 20 new charter schools, teacher pay raises, rebuilding school buildings, and special education programs. His plan also calls for “restoring high expectations” in education.

He called for a #JumpstartJobs program to train workers and attract investment in Virginia.

“We will jumpstart job growth in Virginia. I will be the jobs governor of Virginia,” Youngkin said.

Virginia has again been ranked number one for business by CNBC, but Youngkin campaign aides suggested that was misleading in a Monday press call.

“Today, Virginia ranks an abysmal 44th in the nation in job recovery coming out of the pandemic,” Youngkin said.

His plan calls for reopening the DMV and upgrading technology at the Virginia Employment Commission. It includes a statewide audit to detect waste and fraud.

“We’re going to make government work for you and all the while we’re going to be standing up and protecting your constitutional rights,” Youngkin said.

Youngkin also announced law enforcement policy, including a promise to fire the Virginia Parole Board, and crackdowns on gun violence including re-instating Project Exile and introducing Operation Ceasefire.

Restoring Republican Confidence

Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe has been touting detail-heavy policy proposals since early in the primary campaign, and there have been rumors that Youngkin has been dodging in-depth policy discussions. Republican observers saw Youngkin’s announcement as key to help rejuvenate the lagging campaign three weeks before voting begins in the race.

They compared it to Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” that powered a mid-’90s Republican conquest.

“Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin finally unveiled a six-point campaign for commonsense today, restoring flagging Republican confidence among the rank and file and stirring even members of the media to attention,” Shaun Kenney reported in The Republican Standard in an email update titled “Youngkin Opens His Contract with America.”

The Virginia Star’s Publisher John Fredericks noted Youngkin’s consistent under-performance in polls.

“He’s down by ten, and so right now the Republicans in Virginia are a rudderless ship, and basically they’re running against Caucus of the Corn,” he said, referring to House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax).

“And their mantra is, ‘We’re not them.’ That’s not good enough. And so they need to draw a very stark contrast between what a Virginia under McAuliffe and the Democrats will look like over the next four years and what Virginia would be under a Youngkin-Republican House. And until that becomes crystal-clear, this is McAuliffe’s race to lose,” Fredericks said.

“You can’t win anymore in Virginia by scaring people about liberals. You have to be specific. Hopefully, that’s where Youngkin now takes this race and we can start debating the issues,” Fredericks said.

He called Youngkin’s proposals “the next best thing to having a Contract with Virginia.”

GOP state legislators praised the plan.

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), Caucus Chair Kathy Byron (R-Bedford), and Caucus Whip Jay Leftwich (R-Cheasapeake) said in a press release, “Glenn Youngkin didn’t just roll out a raft of policies today. He rolled out a road map for a successful first year in office, and House Republicans are excited to work with him to see these ideas enacted into law.”

“Glenn’s ‘Day One Game Plan’ provides a comprehensive foundation to revitalize our commonwealth.  Glenn’s plan will improve education by addressing the learning loss crisis and getting political agendas out of the classroom, invigorate our economy and create jobs, and restore public safety and support our law enforcement professionals,” Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment, Jr. (R-James City) and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) said in their own release.

McAuliffe responded to the announcement by highlighting Youngkin’s early calls for election integrity, which McAuliffe called “a Trumpian plan to make voting harder,” and by highlighting his own policy proposal to expand access to health care.

He tweeted, “The more we learn about Glenn Youngkin’s Trumpian tax plan, the worse it gets. This guy would RUIN our economy and public schools — sending Virginia straight into the ditch. We’ve got to stop him.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to eburk@vastarnews.com.
Photo “Glenn Youngkin Headshot” by Glenn Youngkin. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Virginia State Capitol Building” by Skip Plitt – C’ville Photography. CC BY-SA 3.0.