Tammy Mulchi: We all need balance

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, May 16, 2024

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We all need balance in our lives. Eating too little or too much affects our energy level. Too little sleep causes trouble thinking, and too much sleep causes us to become lazy and not accomplish what needs to be done. Governments are the same way. They must have balance for them to function properly.

Budgets are a perfect example. In Virginia, our constitution requires the budget to be balanced. The needs of Virginians are balanced between this service and that service. If one area of government is overfunded, it comes at the expense of other agencies. Hence, there is always a back and forth as the budget is developed in Richmond. Likewise, that is why there is such a horrible mess in Washington. Unlike Virginia, they have no constitutional requirement to balance their budget; each year, the federal deficit grows and grows.

A balance must be found not just about which agencies and services to spend tax revenues on but also about how much to spend. The question often comes down to whether we should find more tax revenues or not and, if so, how. That is the issue that we are trying to deal with this week.

I believe that, rather than fighting over which agencies get this amount or that amount to provide their perceived needs, it would be wiser to grow the economy by encouraging and assisting businesses to expand or come to Virginia. This would result in greater employment opportunities. The more Virginians and businesses paying taxes, the more revenue that can prudently be used to balance the budget. Without good-paying jobs, there is a greater need for services from the state, such as food and housing assistance and Medicaid.


Some believe the solution is to simply raise taxes! That might work in the short run, but in the long term, it makes Virginia a less attractive place to build a business for potential employers. We have perfect examples of this by watching what states around Virginia have done. In North Carolina and Tennessee, both states have reduced their rates on businesses. In North Carolina, they tested the idea by reducing the corporate tax by one-half of one percent. If that cut did not attract more business activity, they would not drop the rate again; however, if it created new jobs, they would drop the rate more. After several years of drops, they are beating Virginia in attracting new manufacturers. 

When Governor Youngkin analyzed the situation and the loss of young people leaving our state, he focused his budget on cutting tax rates. His budget sought to make Virginia more competitive. 

The Democrats, on the other hand, proposed more taxes. This is the battle that is being fought. This year is a deadlock, and it will be re-fought every year.

The bottom line is that despite Washington’s inability to understand, the government cannot provide for all the wants that some have, but rather should focus on the real needs.

As I write this, we are just getting ready for the Special Session. I received a copy of the budget around noon on Saturday and have spent the weekend reading through the almost 1,000 pages of amendments to the 2022-24 Budget and the newly proposed 2024 – 26 Biennial Budget. While I don’t like everything about this budget, I think we have some significant wins in the end. I will give you a recap after we finish up in Richmond this week. 

Tammy Mulchi serves as the District 9 state senator. She can be reached at senatormulchi@senate.virginia.gov or by calling 804-698-7509.