Home Budget, Economy Video: VA Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell (D) Talks About Youngkin’s Unrealistic...

Video: VA Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell (D) Talks About Youngkin’s Unrealistic (and Regressive!) Tax Plans and “Budget Gimmicks”; the Proposed Tysons Casino and Wizards/Caps Arena; Gun Violence Prevention and Reproductive Freedom; etc.

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See below for video of VA Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), speaking this morning at the Mt. Vernon town hall, about a variety of issues, including Glenn Youngkin’s absurd, regressive and unrealistic budget/tax gimmicks; the hundreds of bills the State Senate has already passed and WILL pass (including on gun violence prevention and women’s reproductive freedom); the need for revenue increases to fund education and other priorities; the proposed Tysons casino (and the need for diversified revenue sources for Fairfax County) and the proposed Wizards/Caps arena in Potomac Yard in Alexandria (Sen. Surovell doesn’t know whether or not that’s going to end up happening); etc. Check it out!

  • We have a brand new building by the way in Richmond. Please come down and visit us. You helped pay for it. It’s a $250 million new office building, it’s probably one of the best in America. We have brand new hearing rooms, we have brand new offices, we have a restaurant finally – Capitol Square has been a food desert for the last 6 years – we have tunnels that connect everything so  you only have to go through security once. So it’s it’s a much more comfortable facility to come and visit us and lobby us and meet us.”
  • We have new majorities. We have a brand new  Democratic majority in the House of Delegates which is a big change, with the first black speaker in the 400-year history of our of House of Delegates…Half of my Democratic caucus has been there less than one year, which is amazing; we haven’t had this much change in our legislature since about 1925, I think. Out of the 21 members of my caucus, I think nine are freshmen and two have been there less than 12 months…and we have also have seven brand new Republicans as well…”
  • “If you would listen to our governor and his talk about our budget, he would tell you everything’s fine, it’s great, we have lots of money, we can cut taxes all day, you can have  everything you want, don’t have to pay for anything – it’s not how it works. The governor’s budget I was very disappointed in. He wanted to cut income taxes while raising sales taxes. The net effect of that was would be to, say, if you make more than $200,000 a year, you would pay about $9,000 less per year in state income taxes. But if you make less than $50,000 a year, you would pay more in taxes because of the sales tax increase. And that was just totally unacceptable to me and my caucus…”
  • “He also talked about cutting the car tax or getting rid of it actually, which is very politically popular but he never had a plan [or] explained how he was going to do it or accomplish it...the car tax in Northern Virginia pays for about $3,500 per student in our school system and [Youngkin] never explained where he was going to…come up with…that amount of money to pay for it. And this is why we haven’t talked about it in for 25 years, because…it’s really a hard thing to figure out, I mean to make up that kind of money it would take a massive income tax increase. And so that’s not going to be a thing.”
  • So once we unwind all [Youngkin’s] budget gimmicks, we discovered that after the Medicaid, the K through 12, all the sort of budget creep you normally have, there’s really not a ton of money in our budget. And we just had an our independent auditor do a big study of our K through 12 system, and according to the auditor we are about $7 billion behind what we should be spending on K through 12 on a statewide basis at the state level. And Chairman McKay likes to point out that our study says the state of West Virginia spends 25% more than Virginia on K through 12. I just want you to think about that for a second. I mean West Virginia is ahead of us. Kentucky spends more than than Virginia does. We’re getting outspent by all our neighboring states on this. And it’s about a $7 billion hole. And just to have an understanding of how big that is, if we were to raise raise income taxes to 10% on people making more than a million dollar a year, that would only pick up about a billion three out of the seven. So if we’re going to start making progress on investing in our children and investing in K through 12, you’re going to start to hear discussion about trying to do something about on the revenue side over the next four or five years, because that’s the only way we’re ever going to make up that hole. And I just want to make sure everybody’s clear about that at the outset.”
  • “The county is dealing with their own challenges, which I’m sure [Mt. Vernon Supervisor] Dan [Storck] will talk about. But when you see commercial office buildings in this county selling at a third of the price they did 5 years ago, we have a big commercial property tax  crunch in this county. Which is why one of the things you heard about was a Fairfax casino this year in Tysons. You know, the casino across the river that all of us see when we come in is the most profitable casino outside of Las Vegas – they see over a billion dollars a year in table game revenue going through there every year. When we studied this five years ago in Fairfax, they said the most valuable casino opportunity in in Virginia is in Tysons, and that’s one of the reasons I supported that. A casino in Tysons would save you all, everybody in this room, about $500 a year in property taxes, because the revenue  it would generate off of tourists and off of people out of the state and people coming to visit. So it’s not going to go this session, the bill didn’t pass, it died in committee, there’s a lot of opposition in McLean to it obviously. But we have to diversify our revenue sources in this county if we’re going to be able to provide the quality of services that I think everybody in this room expects out of their K through 12 system and your parks and your rec centers that you’re going to see and everything else.”
  • If you were up here, you’d probably think all we talk about is casinos and arenas; we actually do a lot more thanI’m not going to talk about the arena very long. I don’t know whether that’s going to happen or not. The governor finally put out a transportation plan on it. It’s not as many cars as you think. When you think about the volume that goes into the Cap Center, it’s actually about the size of two, maybe two and a half high school graduations per game – it’s not a football stadium, it’s about 18,000 people per game, so it’s actually not a big event. And I don’t know whether where that’s going to go.”
  • “You heard the congressman a moment ago about how productive that their Congress has been, what was it 24 bills or 30 bills…we’ve done about 400 so far in the Senate, we have about 300 to go I think in the next three days. And then we’ll do another probably probably another 400 or 500 bills after that that come out of the House; we tend to be very efficient, move very quickly.”
  • “But some…things that we’re fighting about a lot you’re going to be reading more, I think there’s an article today about all the firearm bills we passed; we passed a ban on AR-15 rifles which I think is important. We also passed a law saying you can’t carry your AR-15 in public..My father and my son like to go to the Alexandria farmer’s market every day…and they went there and saw these guys from Prince George carrying AR15 rifles at the farmers market, which my son still talks about today. I asked the guy on the floor why you need to carry it in public and he said, well it’s my god-given right. We passed a 5-day waiting period for guns. We passed safe storage laws. We’ve passed we’ve passed laws creating liability for gun manufacturers that knowingly sell rifles that are known to kill a lot of people. We’ve done a lot there. We’re passing a bunch of laws I think on Monday or Tuesday to protect women’s right to make their own healthare decisions which I think we need to continue to press hard on. And other than that, we have a lot of bills churning through the system, it goes very quickly, we need you to communicate with us to tell us what we need to keep an eye on, what we need to be aware of, it happens so fast, it’s skeet shooting…”
  • “…when I came out of the building last  night at 6:00, I ran into the senator from Roanoke, and he’s like what are you doing this weekend? I said I got to go to a town hall. And he’s like, ‘you Northern Virginians and your town halls’. They don’t  do this in the rest of the state, okay? I want you all to understand how special this is – they don’t see this level of civic activism and engagement in most of the rest of the state, and they think we’re weird because we do these things. But I enjoy it, I enjoy the feedback and being able to communicate with you all and hear what you have to say. And please make sure we keep doing this year after year…”
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