Resist crony capitalism. Between 1995 and 2015, Virginia has given the coal industry $500 MILLION in subsidies, propping up a dying industry with crony capitalism and taxpayer money. Coal is a dying industry and should be allowed to die a natural death, not kept alive on life support with our tax dollars.
Fair taxation. According to the Commonwealth Institute, families in Virginia that make more than $587,000 pay less in state and local taxes than do families making under $22,000 a year (7% vs. 9.8%). That’s not fair. Ben support’s Governor Northam’s plan to make the EITC fully refundable and would work to cut regressive taxes on working families like the car tax.
Occupational licensing reform. A quarter of US workers need government licenses to work, up from less than 5% in the 1950’s. Virginia has the nation’s 8th most burdensome licensing laws. Commonsense occupational licensing reform for professions not hazardous to public safety, as championed by President Obama, will make it easier to get jobs. Ben supports adopting the recommendations from the nonpartisan Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission.
Affordable housing. Ben supports the Affordable Housing Alliance’s initiative to add $20 million to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund.
Traffic solutions. The DC-to-Stafford stretch of I-95 is the worst traffic hotspot in the United States, negatively affecting many residents of Ben’s district. Better infrastructure means getting to work faster, which means increased economic productivity. We need to get innovative. Road improvements are important but aren’t the only answer. We can use technology to improve traffic congestion. Digital traffic signals can synchronize and adjust based on traffic conditions connecting vehicles together. Virginia can be a leader in automated and connected vehicle technology, letting cars talk to each other. Ben will fight to defend funding for VDOT’s Innovation and Technology Transportation Program.
Legalize Bars, allow family-owned liquor stores, and abolish the ABC. Craft beer has been booming ever since President Carter legalized home brewing. We have outgrown Prohibition. Legalizing onsite tasting rooms for breweries back in 2012 was a good first step, but bars are still illegal here. We can go further. Let’s abolish the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and clear the way for a boom in small family-owned businesses.
Legalize marijuana. Marijuana legalization has benefits not only for healthcare and criminal justice, but also for economic growth. Marijuana has become a thriving industry in other states, spawning numerous small businesses, creating jobs, and giving small farmers a new cash crop. If other states can do it, then with our rich agricultural heritage we can too. Ben supports full legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp.
Right-to-work regulations are market interference. Ben believes that strong unions are engines of freedom and essential to a robust middle class, and that collective bargaining is a free market force which the government shouldn’t interfere with. Workers and businesses should have the freedom to bargain and make contracts, but right-to-work regulations deny businesses and workers the freedom to negotiate mutually beneficial contracts. Without the ability to freely and fairly negotiate for a better contract, workers are hamstrung at the bargaining table.
Minimum wage. Ben supports raising the minimum wage, and also granting localities the power to raise the minimum wage above the state minimum. Ben thinks of the minimum wage as a very efficient kind of business taxation with minimal bureaucratic overhead, because it is exchanged directly from the employer to the employee, bypassing all red tape or government planning. Furthermore, minimum wage earners spend their income on basic necessities: food, clothing, rent, school supplies. That means their wages go directly back into the local economy. An incredibly efficient tax without red-tape waste that directly stimulates the local economy? Great! Unfortunately, small low-margin family businesses such as restaurants are disproportionately affected by minimum wage increases, which is the opposite of progressive taxation. That’s why Ben will also fight for tax cuts for small businesses to accompany a minimum wage increase.