Commentary, Local Commentary

Delegate Marcus Simon’s Richmond Report

Last week, Governor Youngkin hit the six-month anniversary of his inauguration, completing 1/8 of his term. But who’s counting? Fortunately, he can’t be re-elected under Virginia’s constitution.

While still in Special Session, the Virginia General Assembly finally completed its work last month, adopting a 2-year budget with two weeks before the start of the new fiscal year July 1st. Part of the struggle can be attributed to the difficulties we encountered while working with a rookie Governor with no political experience who staffed his inner circle with political campaign types and seems more interested in looking forward to his next race for some higher office than learning how to do the job he has now.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. I could be bitter that in my ninth session in the House of Delegates, Governor Youngkin was responsible for my first vetoed bill, a charter change bill requested by the City of Falls Church. That would be petty. Not as petty as the Governor deciding to veto all of State Senator Adam Ebbin’s bills that were identical to others patroned by House members which he gleefully signed into law.

This was all in retaliation for Ebbin chairing the Senate Committee that refused to confirm his appointment of Trump’s EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources.
My concerns with the Governor’s performance are based on his poor policy decisions.

Among his first executive orders was the creation of a snitch line soliciting reports of teachers broaching “inherently divisive topics,” attempting to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and renaming the cabinet level Equity and Inclusion job to the Ambassador of the Unborn.

In his first State of the Commonwealth address, he challenged us to pass legislation creating a stadium authority to lure Washington’s NFL franchise to Virginia with tax incentives, in spite of ample evidence of the toxic environment of sexual harassment that’s existed there and the owner’s refusal to release the results of the workplace misconduct investigation.

As much as I disagree with the Governor on major policy issues, I suppose I should be happy that he’s also really, really bad at his job. The General Assembly was hampered in completing the budget by a combination of his meddling in the process and his alienating his negotiating partners in the Senate with his petty vetoes of non-controversial legislation.

After months of being unable to fill key government positions (and even posting some appointed positions online), he’s appointed a confederate sympathizer to a historical board and climate change deniers to environmental posts. Maybe he got better as he immersed himself in the job, learning from his mistakes?

In the wake of the decision overturning Roe vs. Wade, the Governor told a gathering of Family Foundation Members he would sign the most restrictive legislation that they could get to his desk. Regarding concerns that the logic used to overturn Roe vs. Wade might lead to reversal of decisions legalizing same-sex marriage, the Governor appeared on “Face the Nation,” falsely asserting that state law protects same-sex marriage. In fact, Virginia’s constitution expressly does the opposite, containing what would effectively become a trigger automatically ending same-sex marriage in Virginia if the Supreme Court overturns the Obergefell decision.

He sold himself as a successful business guy. He was a Co-CEO, whatever that means. On his watch, Virginia dropped to #3 in the country for doing business after previously holding the #1 spot for two years in a row under Democratic leadership.

300 state employees resigned over an ill-advised telework policy, the impact of which has yet to be fully realized, but you can be sure that public services and programs will be affected. Youngkin’s actions could almost be comical except they have real consequences.

He’d rather focus on getting the support of Republicans in the midwest instead of fixing the ongoing issues at the Virginia Employment Commission. Don’t worry, he’ll keep closing Capitol Square when chalk drawings are found on the sidewalk. And make sure that any lawful protests will have more than its fair share of overly-armed police.

Instead of bringing us together, he’s sowing seeds of division and mistrust while the Virginia GOP encourages and enables this behavior. Youngkin just doesn’t get it.