A new American Legislative Exchange Council study puts Virginia ahead of most other states on economic competitiveness and related policies. While some studies suggest the Commonwealth’s emphasis on budget cuts hurts its residents, it’s that very approach that gives Virginia the number three ranking in the “Rich States, Poor States” analysis.
Jonathan Williams, director of ALEC’S Center for State Fiscal Reform, says the study used 15 different policy variables, and how each state dealt with fiscal crises weighed heavily. He said 20th-ranked Maryland raised taxes and targeted businesses to fix its budget shortfall—and as a result, one wealthy county lost a billion dollars when a company pulled out to find a better business climate. Delegate Riley Ingram said Virginia, in contrast, cut spending but improved its business relations—which were some reasons why Rolls Royce decided to move here:
“The reason they chose Virginia was the education system, the K -12, the Higher Ed—all that played a part in it. Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia–all of our higher education schools, the community college system–John Tyler, Richard Bland is right there–the two year only junior college in Virginia, but the big thing—the big thing, was Virginia Right-to-Work,” said Ingram.
The ranks of neighboring states ranged from 12th to 39th. Only Utah and South Dakota ranked higher than Virginia.