The governor’s speech was not well received in certain circles. Some democrats and economists say McDonnell should not claim credit for low unemployment or another budget surplus.
Under his leadership, the governor says Virginia has created more than 172,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate is just 5.5% -- the lowest in the Southeast. UVA economist Terry Rephan says Virginia does better than other states when it comes to employment, regardless of who is governor.
“We have a relatively small manufacturing base, a little over half of the national average, so we’re less susceptible to the cyclical fluctuations than a lot of other manufacturing-dependent states are.”
And David Toscano, the House of Delegates Minority Leader, says we should thank Washington for strong employment in the Commonwealth:
“The unemployment rate is a function of the improving national economy and because we are the beneficiaries in Virginia of so much federal spending.”
He dismisses the governor’s boast that Virginia has recorded a budget surplus in each of the last four years.
“These budget surpluses are generated, by and large, by underestimating how much revenue we’re going to take in in a single year.”
And, he says, the excess cash reflects spending too little for public education. Virginia ranks 38th in per pupil funding from the state.
“We’ve been neglecting our system of higher education, tuitions continue to rise because we’re not investing to the extent we really need to, and that’s going to make it harder for the middle class to send their kids to college so they can compete in an increasingly complex global economy.”
Critics also point to relatively low spending on health care for the poor, clean up of the Chesapeake Bay and policing of business and industry in Virginia.