Sunday, December 19, 2021

Your December 19th Sunday Summary ...

Dear Friend of TJI,
We ended last week urging prayers for the victims of the Kentucky tornados. We begin this week by letting you know how you can help.
Meanwhile …
1.) Governor Ralph Northam blinked: There will be state tax cuts next year, larger if the incoming Governor has his way. Senior Fellow Steve Haner has been pounding the tables on the flood of revenue coming into the state as a result of tax changes for more than a year now. He compares and contrasts what Northam and incoming Governor Glenn Youngkin propose here, and notes that Northam’s proposal is merely a down payment. It is, indeed, merely a down payment on what needs to be a larger and broader look at tax reform that will expand economic growth and opportunity for all Virginians. The Jefferson Institute plans to lead the way.
2.) Haner, meanwhile, is turning his attention to another type of tax: more regulations, noting that California now controls Virginia’s new car market as a result of legislation and regulatory decisions linking Virginia’s air emission regulations to those of the Golden State. Who in Virginia will get to vote on these? No one (here).   Over at Bacon’s Rebellion, Emilio Jaksetic argues that the action is unconstitutional (here). But until it is litigated by someone with standing, under proposed California regulations 100 percent of light vehicles sold in California must be zero emissions vehicles by 2035. That is now the target in Virginia, placing an equally bright target on the backs of car buyers.
3.) But while the state giveth, localities taketh away. Loudoun County is set to impose a five cent tax on plastic bags authorized under Northam by the General Assembly (here), joining Fairfax and Arlington Counties and the cities of Fredericksburg, Roanoke, and Fredericksburg. Coming to a jurisdiction near you …
4.) Not to be outdone, Albemarle County is now considering raising meals (a public referendum no longer being required) and hotel tax rates (here). This comes as Albemarle’s property values rise more than eight percent (here), which typically results in increased real property taxes if the local Board of Supervisors does not lower the rate (here). Values are also rising elsewhere in Virginia (here, and here), although some counties offer a rebate when they have a surplus (here).
5.) Local property taxes, of course, mostly pay for local public school systems. In Arlington, parents don’t believe they are getting what they pay for (here), demanding more time in classes. Students there, like everywhere, are striving to make up for pandemic-inspired “learning loss.” The CDC has at last concluded that students exposed to covid can keep learning in-person … and they have the studies to back it up (here).
6.) Meanwhile, as children suffer from having been forced out of class for a year, under direction from the 2021 General Assembly, the Virginia Department of Education is proposing to require teachers and other licensed school personnel to undergo “cultural competency” training to receive a teaching license and every two years thereafter for license renewal. Helping teachers understand the cultures within their classroom is a good thing but the Guidance uses Vernita Mayfield’s 56 Exercises to Help Educators Understand and Challenge Bias, Racism, and Privilege to inform creation of the guidance and is designed to, among other things, “increase your awareness of privilege and bias,” which sounds to many like components of Critical Race Theory educators deny is used in the classroom. Parents and others might want to read the guidance (here), a summary of Mayfield’s book – be sure to read the reader reviews (here) and offer comment before the public comment period ends on January 5 (here).

7.) The same Department of Education will in July release a regularly-scheduled update of Virginia's History Standards of Learning. Some fear it's approach may also be informed by The New York Times' discredited "1619 Project", which George Will calls "maliciousness in the service of progressivism's agenda," the historical illiteracy of which he pulls apart here.
8.) Mayfield’s book apparently offers “advice on establishing a safe environment for professional conversations.” That apparently does not extend to Harvard, where student conservatives are forced to write under pseudonyms to avoid ostracization (here). We are in, says Greg Lukianoff, “The Second Great Age of Political Correctness” (here). For Anna Krylov, writing in Quillette, it even extends to science, and he compares the prohibition of “certain ideas” to his own early life in the USSR, where communist “ideology permeated all aspects of life, and survival required strict adherence to the party line and enthusiastic displays of ideologically proper behavior.” (here)
9.) Unable to muster the votes to ram it through (thank you, Joe Manchin), Senator Chuck Schumer has put off President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better until next year (here). But the halt is temporary, and its important to keep the arguments against it flowing: The real problem, says American Enterprise Institute’s Brian Reidl, is “fitting $5 trillion in 10-year benefits into a $2.4 trillion score” (here), compounded by producer prices rising 9.6 percent from a year ago, the highest level in 10 years (here). Over at Reason Magazine, J.D. Tuccille notes that the only thing Build Back Better would buy is more inflation (here). In The Wall Street Journal, former Senator Phil Gramm and Mike Solon say “The Stagflation is Coming” (here) and Gerard Baker notes “Biden Seems Set on Making ‘Transitory’ Inflation Last” (here).
10.) It’s the holiday season, and commercials are everywhere … including this little newsletter. Over the last year, Senior Fellow Steve Haner has laid bare the arguments against Governor Northam’s higher taxes, successfully sought to stop the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), and sought withdrawal of Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – all of which are now in the process of being reversed. Visiting Fellow F. Vincent Vernuccio has exposed the collective bargaining processes in a multitude of jurisdictions and has drafted legislation guaranteeing workers their independent rights should they come under a monopoly union agreement. 

Our video on taxes (here) has been seen nearly a half-million times and helped raise the issue with Virginians, our video on TCI (here) alerted 30,000 Virginians to the higher gas taxes being planned, and our videos explaining choices to Virginian teachers (here and here) helped guide a couple hundred out of the politicized teachers union and into independent and non-political educator associations (taking $250,000 in dues money with them that can’t be used for leftwing candidates and causes).
The point is: Winning takes work. And that work, those videos, and the advertising to promote them require resources … which pays off in lower taxes, affordable and reliable energy, better education, and a stronger economy. Your tax-deductible investment in the Thomas Jefferson Institute will make a difference as you join us. Won’t you do so now by clicking here?
Finally … after the past two years, a delay in Build Back Better, a forthcoming tax cut, and an end to RGGI and TCI have been a long time coming. We hope you’ll savor the feeling.  
Happy Sunday, Everyone.
And best wishes from our entire team for the Merriest of Christmases, and a bright New Year ahead. We’ll see you in two weeks.
Chris Braunlich
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The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

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