Opinion: Commentary: Economic Recovery Is More Than Escaping COVID-19

Our local economy is in a precarious position, and it’s not just because of pandemic

Over the last year, our economy struggled to hang on amidst unpredictable changes in pandemic regulations, with over 45 percent of small businesses in the region closing permanently or temporarily, and roughly 49,000 Fairfax County residents remain unemployed. As businesses reopen and vaccination rates increase, we hope for recovery but the long-term threats to our economy are increasingly coming to light.

Virginians have been rightfully distracted by news about the pandemic and turmoil in their personal lives. Many have missed the introduction of policies that are making Virginia and Fairfax County anti-business, anti-worker, and anti-taxpayer.

In the past year, the General Assembly passed legislation to allow local option for public collective bargaining, project labor agreements (PLAs), a Meals Tax without a voter referendum, a Plastic Bag Tax and more. Public collective bargaining will be a substantial burden on taxpayers, project labor agreements will disadvantage local small and minority-owned businesses, and a plastic bag tax will place significant costs on businesses. These policies could hurt even a strong economy, much more a recovering one.

Still, the Board of Supervisors is moving forward with each of these, despite the estimated impact, the already 45 percent increase in property taxes over the last ten years, and the sharpest inflation increase in 12 years.

On top of legislation that already passed the General Assembly, a repeal of right-to-work continues to hang in the balance. If right-to-work is repealed, we will see an exodus of workers from Virginia to avoid payments to union bosses. Businesses will surely follow.

Now more than ever, we need to support our local businesses by engaging our representatives at the local and state level about policies that will aid in our recovery instead of sending Virginia backward.

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