McAuliffe and Youngkin exchange false tax and expense returns
PolitiFact VA: As elections close, McAuliffe and Youngkin continue to refute claims
In the final week of Virginia’s gubernatorial campaign, both candidates from the main parties repeat debunked claims about each other’s tax policies.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin use the same campaign trick: citing partisan reports that distort each other’s tax policies.
McAuliffe makes an outdated claim that Youngkin is eliminating 43,000 teachers. Youngkin says McAuliffe would raise taxes for families by $ 5,400, even though McAuliffe’s campaign has said he will not raise taxes.
“Independent reports have said that [Youngkin’s] the plan would cut 43,000 teachers here in Virginia, ”McAuliffe said at an Oct. 26 rally in Arlington led by President Joe Biden.
McAuliffe has been making this claim since mid-September, when three liberal groups released reports on Youngkin’s budget plan: the Virginia Education Association, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Virginia Excels.
All reports were out of date when they were published. Youngkin said in April that he was working on a plan to eliminate the state’s income tax. The studies were based on the assumption that it would repeal the tax, which provides about 70% of state funding for public schools, public safety and health programs. Each of the reports indicated that this would translate into a reduction of about $ 5 billion per year in public schools.
The problem is, Youngkin is no longer calling for an end to income tax. In August, he opted for a more modest plan that would double the standard deduction for state income tax returns.
The difference between the two plans is huge. Ending income tax would cost the state $ 15.7 billion a year. Doubling the standard deductions would cost around $ 1.2 billion in the first year and $ 875 million per year thereafter, according to a “very rough estimate” from Anne Oman, director of personnel for the Virginia House appropriations committee. .
In other words, the reported revenue loss is roughly 13 times the cost of Youngkin’s plan in its first year and 18 times thereafter. Youngkin’s plan would still leave a hole in the general fund that pays for education. He promises to increase funding for schools although he gave few details.
The forecast that Youngkin would fire 43,000 teachers comes from the Virginia Excels report. To grasp the enormity of this claim, consider that Virginia had 105,000 public school teachers last year. McAuliffe, citing the outdated report, says Youngkin plans to cut 40% of teachers.
The executive director of Virginia Excels is Taikein Cooper, chairman of the Prince Edward County Democratic Party. The organization’s website only lists Cooper as a “team.” Cooper did not respond to our emails. He paid $ 1,278 to Democratic candidates this year, including a $ 150 donation to McAuliffe, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. He didn’t give Republicans money.
The Virginia Republican Party has filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that Virginia Excels violated its tax-exempt status by releasing the report, which it calls “blatant partisan political campaign activity.”
We asked the McAuliffe campaign why McAuliffe continued to make claims based on the debunked report and got no response to our question.
“Terry McAuliffe’s plan would raise your taxes by $ 5,400, the largest tax increase in Virginia history,” Youngkin said in a television commercial published Oct. 22. He launched a similar ad earlier in October and made the same claim at rallies across the state. .
Younkin takes his claim from a September 18, Yahoo News article with the headline: “McAuliffe plans could cost every family in Virginia $ 5,400: report.” But, as the Washington Post reported, this is a ruse. The article was written by a reporter from The Center Square, an online source.
Center Square identifies itself as a “project” of the Franklin News Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit that claims to provide “timely, accurate and balanced state coverage and news coverage at scale. of the State… as a public interest “. The Pew Research Center identifies him among a number of “ideological outlets” across the country trying to fill a gap in the state’s media coverage as newspapers cut staff.
The Center Square article attributed the $ 5,400 tax hike figure to a Sept. 15 report by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, a conservative Virginia research group.
But the report offers no estimate of a per-family tax increase under McAuliffe’s plan, let alone the eye that exceeds $ 5,400 according to the article. That figure comes from Youngkin’s campaign, which took the study’s $ 8.3 billion prize for McAuliffe’s two-year plan and doubled it to cover a four-year term. The campaign took the total of $ 16.6 billion and divided it by 3.1 million households in Virginia.
Neither Youngkin nor the Center Square article mention their $ 5,400 estimate of McAuliffe’s alleged tax hike as a four-year cost. It would cost families $ 1,350 per year if the assumptions are sound, and some are not.
For example, the study indicates that the most expensive item on McAuliffe’s agenda is to allow collective bargaining for state employees and to strengthen it for local government employees. He estimates the move would cost $ 940 million per year starting in McAuliffe’s first year in office. The report assumes that state employees will receive 10% increases in the first year and that teachers will see the same increase in addition to a 6% increase needed for McAuliffe to keep his promise to raise their salaries at the national average.
The study improbably assumes that McAuliffe’s entire spending program would be fully approved in the first year of his governorship, and Youngkin attaches the annual cost to each year of his tenure.
Another problem is that the report does not mention that the McAuliffe campaign has said since July that McAuliffe will not raise taxes. Without a doubt, that would be a challenge. McAuliffe has a massive program that includes investing $ 2 billion in new money (his estimate) in public education and expanding Medicaid to cover an additional 650,000 Virginians.
Report author Jesse Lynch revealed in his study that he “is involved in a paid capacity with Republican members of the Virginia General Assembly.” He told us via email that he was unaware of McAuliffe’s no-new tax promise when he wrote the study.
Lynch said: “If (McAuliffe) tries to implement his entire plan, he will outgrow Virginia’s income increases. McAuliffe either comes up with policies he knows he will never implement, or he will have to find new income. “
McAuliffe says new income from the advent of casinos and marijuana sales will help pay for his proposals. He also says he will attract more federal dollars.
At the end of the line
Beware of claims made during the last days of a close race. If you hear McAuliffe or Youngkin describe each other’s tax and spending plans, shut your ears.