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Virginia Elections

Meet the Candidates for Governor: Republican Ed Gillespie


Today we hear from Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Gillespie is one of three Republicans vying to replace Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Before a campaign event in Richmond, Gillespie sat down with reporter Mallory Noe-Payne. He laid out his plan to strengthen Virginia’s economy, beginning with a tax cut to individuals and small businesses.

Interview Highlights (emphasis ours):

On taxes: 

I put forward a plan to bring down our individual income tax rates by 10% across the board. It will be phased in over three years. We could still increase funding for core government functions like law enforcement, transportation and education.

We're projecting $3.4 billion in increased revenue over the course of the next five years. Even with anemic economic growth, you get increased revenue. So by setting aside $2 billion for increased spending on core government functions like law enforcement, transportation, education healthcare -- we can still allow for hardworking Virginians to keep more of their income to spend as they see as they see fit. But we can do both. We can increase spending on core government functions and at the same time bring down tax rates across the board. Our tax rates were set in 1972.

On promoting business: 

In addition to that tax relief, we also need to reform our regulatory processes. We're a very onerously regulated state and in particular when it comes to occupational licenses... For example, to be a barber in the Commonwealth of Virginia you have to complete 1,500 hours of state required training, 9 months of training to become a barber, and pay a fee to get a state license. I want my dentist to have a state license, but occupational licenses are barriers to entry. They are excessive in many cases and unnecessary in some. I'm for tearing down barriers to entry to make it easier for people to enter the marketplace and to provide for competition and that would help small business owners in particular. 

On healthcare: 

We need to make access to healthcare more affordable for more Virginians, and I don't believe expanding Medicaid in the Commonwealth is the right approach in that regard. When you look at other states that have done that the cost has gone up much faster than they projected, that's almost inevitably the case. 

But we do need more competition to help bring down costs. One of the things that we can do is to encourage more competition in the insurance market and one of the ways we can do that is to allow for competition across state lines. 

You can have an interstate compact – you can have an agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the state of Kentucky. Actually, Kentucky is a Commonwealth too…and the state of Tennessee can all agree that we’re going to have competition amongst ourselves. Now, congress would have to ratify that interstate compact, but if states reach an interstate compact, congress usually will ratify those.

You don't have to wait for it to take place nationally... we can do it among our neighboring states.

On cap and trade:

The EPA announces they’re going to roll back the clean power plan which will provide some much needed relief to our fellow Virginians in Southwest Virginia. And the governor (McAuliffe) comes in right after that just as they’re about to caitch their breath and says “nope, we’re going to impose it at a state level.”

I think it’s very bad policy in terms of trying to foster economic growth – high energy prices will not help us do that. In Southwest Virginia it would have a devastating effect in coal country.

What about the argument that coal is on its way out?

I would rather allow for the marketplace to work itself out. There are some alternative uses for coal that’s giving people hope in Southwest Virginia for good reason. And the notion that our state government is going to add insult to injury to those coal miners and their families and the small businesses and school districts that rely on them in Southwest Virginia – I just find to be offensive. We can do a lot to make sure we’re working to cleaner air and cleaner water – I don’t know anybody who doesn’t want that. But to impose a statewide system of cap and trade and the clean power plan that Obama approached at the state level doesn’t make sense to me.

On Confederate monuments:

I don’t believe we should remove historical statues in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And I believe that’s important, but I don’t believe – as one of my opponents does – that it is the most significant problem facing the Commonwealth today.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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