Tag Archives: Chris Braunlich

Analog Tax Policy is Harmful in a Digital World

By Chris Braunlich

To many, testifying before a government committee conjures visions of the drama surrounding the McCarthy, Watergate, or Zuckerberg hearings.

In Virginia, not so much.  Faced with processing more than 2,600 bills in 60 days, the legislature conducts hearings that are often more of a kabuki dance, while backstage choreographers figure out the next steps.  Speakers are frequently limited to one minute and sometimes committee chairs simply ask the roomful of citizen and professional lobbyists to stand in support or opposition to a bill.  It is rarely deep and incisive content.

But these hearings are ideal opportunities to test the waters, grab a headline, position your bill for the future, ask a question directly of a bill’s sponsor, or determine where your adversaries are coming from. Continue reading

Serious Tax Reform Addressing a Serious Problem

Chris Braunlich

By Chris Braunlich

The American linguist Yogi Berra once said of a New York City restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore.  It’s too crowded.”

Overcrowding, however, isn’t what motivates a move to a state (or from a state).  Those decisions are inspired by robust economic activity, jobs for residents, and a pathway for each generation to do better than their parents did.  People move for a job, for higher pay, for lower cost of living, or for a better education. Continue reading

Will the Left Repudiate this Evil?

(This column was published earlier today by The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy)

by Chris Braunlich

“You dance with the one who brung ya” goes one of the oldest sayings in politics.

It means that when elected officials get into public office, they vote with those who helped put them there.

The deadly Hamas attack on Israel, an event slaughtering 1,400 Israelis that Hamas political bureau member Ghazi Hamad called “our message to the world,” has exposed divisions up and down the Biden liberal-left coalition – and sent a warning signal about those who power that coalition.

Polling data demonstrate the split among Democrats, fueled largely by the young and the left.   It has already caused President Biden to shift his tone, and a recent Reuters report noted that “Biden, 80, has evolved in the face of a challenging 2024 reelection bid, (and) threats by some would-be supporters to withhold their votes over his lack of backing for Palestinians .…”

Four hundred congressional staffers have signed a letter to their bosses opposing the Administration’s current approach. Two-hundred each among the former volunteers of presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have done the same. Groups supporting Biden are disbanding. Continue reading

Local Government Unions Raise Your Taxes

By Chris Braunlich

Subscribers to Netflix will soon see rate increases because of the Screen Actors Guild-AFTRA Hollywood strikes.  Buyers of new and used cars will, as a result of the United Auto Workers strike, see prices go up as supply dwindles and costs rise.

The current spate of labor actions – involving more than 420,000 employees – is a response to higher inflation.  However, it will also drive prices even higher, both through lost productivity and higher costs to pay for higher wages. Continue reading

Virginia Conservatives Need Political Infrastructure

By Chris Braunlich

Governor Glenn Youngkin can take satisfaction from passage of the long-delayed Virginia budget.

As my colleague Steve Haner points out, during his term of office Youngkin’s fight to increase the standard deduction will save the average Virginia couple up to $1,265 over three years, provide $900 in tax rebates, and eliminate the state share of the grocery tax (another $115 million in savings last year). Continue reading

Virginia’s New “The Stupid Party”

by Chris Braunlich

From the ‘50s to the mid-‘70s, the Republican Party was known as “the stupid party” – locked in the past, making foolish decisions, promoting unwise and counterproductive policies.

Today, in Virginia, “the stupid party” has returned. But it is no longer Republican.

The current battle over Virginia’s budget and the prospects for tax reduction and reform affirms the Left’s governing philosophy: what the government has belongs to the government and what the taxpayer has is negotiable.

With a $5.1 billion surplus exceeding the last fiscal year’s projections, Governor Glenn Youngkin proposes to return $1 billion — less than 20 percent — to the taxpayers from whom it came, in the form of permanent rate reform. He would spend the remainder on education, behavioral health, law enforcement and other projects. Senate Democrats, on the other hand, want to spend all of it, offering, at best, a one-time rebate giving them “first dibs” on future excessive tax revenue. Continue reading

School Choice for Poor Still Hard Sell to Democrats

By Chris Braunlich

On being told that peasants were starving for lack of bread, Marie Antoinette is reputed to have said “Let them eat cake.”

Marie Antoinette had nothing on Delegate Suhas Subramanyam.

At a House subcommittee meeting on Wednesday, Delegate Subramanyam was confronted with more than a dozen low-income families and Black community leaders demanding educational choices and opportunities for their children. Continue reading

Bringing New Ideas to Education

Grace Creasey, executive director of the Virginia Council for Private Education

by Chris Braunlich

One of the challenges in public education – in any bureaucracy, public or private — is the tendency to establish an “echo chamber” of ideas.

In public schools, this reinforces the loudest voices and makes it hard for creative educators or an informed citizenry to burst through with new ideas.

In recent years, the Virginia Board of Education typified that problem. With five of nine members having spent most, if not all, of their careers in the public education echo chamber – as teachers, principals, professors, or superintendents – it typified Terry McAuliffe’s offensive declaration in the 2021 campaign that parents shouldn’t have a voice in their child’s education.

Suparna Dutta, Educators for Glenn

But it wasn’t always that way. When I served on the Board of Education, only two appointees had spent their entire careers as public-school employees … and that assumes you include an engineering professor at a state university. Previous Boards also included a diverse group.

In an era of pandemic shutdowns and declining standards, the time has come for the Board to give new approaches a look. The appointment of five new members of the State Board of Education by Governor Glenn Youngkin starts a return in balance to previous compositions, and his appointees are a diverse group of thought leaders. Continue reading

Reject the Cut, Help the Students

by Chris Braunlich

Cruise over to the website of Cristo Rey Richmond High School, and you’ll learn that all of the students there are from low-income families.

You’ll also read about scores of national and local partnerships, providing hundreds of work-study opportunities to teach students the art and science of working in an office environment and the soft skills of communications, customer service, office etiquette, and team building – the sort of skills employers highly value and that make young people highly employable.

What you won’t learn is that those positive programs – and the future of their scholars — may now be in severe jeopardy.

The school came to Virginia because of the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit (EISTC), a program offering donors to qualified scholarship programs serving low and moderate income children a 65% state tax credit. Last year, more than $600,000 in scholarships helped Cristo Rey serve students who needed a better educational placement, and whose family incomes come in at less than $65,000 for a family of four. Continue reading

Can Education Standards Be Brought Back?

by Chris Braunlich

“… score standards were adopted that made it easier for students to pass; and changes in accreditation regulations let schools off the hook for their failures.”

The words of Governor Glenn Youngkin at Thursday’s unveiling of a new report analyzing the decline of Virginia’s public education?

Nope. They came from The Washington Post, in a February 8, 2020 editorial titled “Virginia made a mistake by easing its academic standards.”

Three years earlier, The Post presciently predicted the standards decline after interviewing the future governor: “Mr. Northam claimed to believe in accountability, but was utterly unable to explain what he means by the word,” as Northam suggested different standards for different students.

An editorial titled, “Virginia’s retreat from academic rigor,” noted: “Creating different expectations for children does them no favors; it just allows adults to escape responsibility…. The emphasis appears to be not on actually improving schools but rather on approving how they appear….”

This was precisely the result of the last eight years. And it is precisely what the Virginia Department of Education report has exposed. Continue reading

A Bold Reform for Education Funding

by Chris Braunlich

(Author’s Note: Eight years ago, we suggested incoming Governor Terry McAuliffe pursue a bold education funding reform that would modernize and supercharge Virginia’s education infrastructure. He chose not to. We offer it again, verbatim, to Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin … because we believe the idea crosses ideological lines and party divides and would represent the first full-throated reform of Virginia education funding in decades. Judging from his appointments, Mr. Youngkin has been more than willing to move beyond “business as usual,” and that tendency portends well for the Commonwealth.)

11/11/2013 — George Allen and Standards of Learning reform. Jim Gilmore and car tax reduction. Bob McDonnell and transportation reform. That’s what we remember.

So what does Governor-elect McAuliffe want to be remembered for when he walks out of the office?

How about reforming K-12 education through “Weighted Student Funding?” This is a concept attracting attention from Governors as diverse as Jerry Brown (D-CA) and Rick Snyder (R-MI), and policy analysts from Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education Bill Bennett to John Podesta, who chairs the center-left Center for American Progress. Here’s why – Continue reading