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Editorial: Addressing Virginia’s Economy

Ending gridlock in Congress and supporting health care reform would be huge steps in supporting economic recovery in Virginia.

The strength of Virginia’s economy, especially Northern Virginia’s economy, comes significantly from federal spending.

So while the governor and other elected officials claim that Virginia’s success is because Virginia is a low-tax state with fewer regulations, it’s worth considering that the sequester and continuing gridlock in Congress threaten Virginia’s most important resource, federal spending.

Virginia receives more federal money per capita than any other state except Alaska. Virginia received $136 billion in federal funds in 2010, more than $17,000 from the feds per capita, and paid $2,807 per capita in federal income taxes. (Data from Consolidated Federal Funds Report for Fiscal Year 2010 by State and County from the Census Bureau.)

Two examples: $1.3 billion in federal transportation money came to Virginia. Virginia was on the receiving end of more than $5,000 per capita in defense spending.

Current Virginia elected officials have barricaded the doors against expansion of an industry that would add more than 30,000 quality jobs in Virginia at no cost to taxpayers. The expansion of Medicaid, which would provide healthcare to as many as 400,000 Virginians who currently cannot afford health insurance, would give Virginia’s economy a significant boost, and create more than 30,000 jobs. Virginia taxpayers will still pay the taxes that will fund the expansion of Medicaid in other states without reaping the benefits of a healthier population and economic stimulus.

Private sector growth in Virginia depends on its educated and sophisticated workforce, on top school systems and universities. It depends on reliable transportation systems and access to high-speed Internet. And it depends on continuing to attract federal contracting dollars.

Virginia’s U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner both work in the best interests of the commonwealth when they work to promote a culture of moderation and compromise in Congress.