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Lower taxes, less spending and fewer federal and state regulations are the keys to creating more jobs in Virginia and strengthening the ones already there, according to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor in this year's campaign.
Cuccinelli also slammed likely Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe for talking a lot about jobs but actually being a consistent failure in creating them.
His economic plan is pretty straightforward. Cuccinelli wants to lower the state's personal income tax from 5.75 percent to five percent. First, he would also lower the state corporate income tax from six percent to four percent.
"The reason we targeted those (rates) is because they have the most impact on job creation, and it offers the best opportunity for us to improve job creation and the rate of job creation in Virginia," said Cuccinelli, who also wants to study reforming some local taxes in areas he believes job creation is being stifled.
Reducing the regulatory burden is also a major goal. Cuccinelli fought very public battles with the federal government over the individual mandate in Obamacare and defeated the the Environmental Protection Agency in federal court after the government declared storm water a pollutant. Cuccinelli told WND government rules, particularly from Washington, are worrying business owners.
"If you talk to a lot of business folks today, what you would find is that, whatever the tax rates might be, the biggest problem they have right now is the uncertainty being imposed through the regulatory process. We want to take as much of that out as we possibly can that we're responsible for here at the state level," he said.
Virginia, like many states, is required to balance its budget. In addition to the expectation that his tax cuts would spur economic growth and more jobs and revenue, Cuccinelli said there's one place he expects to find a lot more money for the state coffers.
"The other way we're going to finance the tax cut, because we have to balance our budgets unlike the federal government, is going to be to take a meat ax to all of the corporate loopholes and exemptions, and we literally have hundreds of millions of dollars of them in Virginia. We're not unique in that respect, but we're going to try to level the playing field and make the whole system a lot more fair," Cuccinelli said.
The roll-out of Cuccinelli's economic plan comes as term-limited Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a major transportation bill that includes $6 billion in new taxes. Cuccinelli opposed the law but said other than the personal and corporate income tax rates, he would not try to reduce the other tax rates involved.
"I didn't appreciate the course that all took with the large tax increases. However, the General Assembly decided that. The governor signed it, and I'm going to be facing pretty much the same General Assembly, so we need to work with them to spur job creation rather than to fight old fights," Cuccinelli said.
McAuliffe touts himself as the candidate with real job creation experience and tries to brand Cuccinelli as being from the extreme right wing of the GOP. Cuccinelli said the facts speak for themselves.
"What he cites for his business experience is failed venture after failed venture. I think that's going to be a little bit difficult for him to build a campaign on. In fact, I'd say they've actually abandoned it. They're still flopping around on the deck for a new rationale for why Virginians should vote for him because he said he was creating jobs while it turns out he wasn't," he said.
"He said he would create many more jobs and it turns out he didn't. That raises all sorts of questions. One, if that's his credential of being a job creator, he failed and he wasn't accurate with people about what he was doing and whether or not he was succeeding. If that's the track record that I'm being compared to, I'm being compared to a negative on the job creation front," Cuccinelli said. "The last big venture he had with Green Tech Automotive, he was taking taxpayer dollars to try and do it and even then he failed."
Virginia is economically healthier than most states, but Cuccinelli said it will need to adapt to the likely reduction in federal government spending in the state.
"With sequestration and what must be the shrinking of the federal government, we need to diversify our economy. There's a lot of great businesses and human capital that's already here, and we want to keep them here. So part of what we're doing is competing to keep some of the good businesses we've got as they move away from as much federal business as they've had in the past. So we have a unique challenge ahead of us that other states don't have," he said.
Cuccinelli also addressed the recent battle of words with McAuliffe over new standards for Virginia abortion clinics. Cuccinelli and other pro-life advocates say clinics should adhere to the same rules for other health facilities, while Democrats like McAuliffe say the new guidelines could shutter many of the state's abortion clinics and restrict women's rights. Cuccinelli said McAuliffe is trying to change the subject to social issues, but he will remain focused on Virginia's economy.
McAuliffe's tax returns are a point of focus for Cuccinelli, however. Cuccinelli has released his returns for the past eight years and is pressuring McAuliffe to do the same.