The Hampton Roads Chamber continues to be an impactful advocate for our members. “It is important for our members to make informed decisions at the ballot box” said Bryan K. Stephens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber. That’s why this election season the Chamber is hosting all the major candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor. On Thursday, October 19, Ed Gillespie spoke to about 50 members in Virginia Beach. “We have 19 days to go in this critically important election. This is the most important election in the history of the Commonwealth. We are stuck. For six years in a row our economic growth has been stuck.”
Gillespie highlighted his extensive proposals and policies to spark growth. “Hampton Roads is the engine for the economic growth. With the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, broadband pipeline, modernize the CBBT, new tubes for HRBT and dredging the channel in our port to 55 feet.”
Gillespie’s proposals include bringing individual income tax rates down over 3 years. He wants to assist small business owners by giving them the same tax advantages as the major corporations enjoy. He highlighted Norfolk’s policy of exempting the first $200 thousand dollars for small business owners. “I know what it is like to put your house down as collateral on a loan to make payroll.” Gillespie grew up working in his parent’s grocery store and has run three small businesses in his career.
The first question from the audience came from Delceno Miles regarding transportation. Gillespie said he supports a Constitutional Amendment requiring transportation revenues be used for transportation funding. He also does not support imposing union contracts on transit projects or project labor agreements. “These steps will help get more mileage out of our dollars.” A follow up question from Shep Miller led Gillespie to state he is in favor of the gas tax floor if it is bundled with a full tax relief package.
Gillespie vows to make college education more affordable for Virginians. He will make that a priority for each of the 15 public universities. Gillespie believes more collaboration and coordination can save some funds. He will call for greater transparency and accountability for all the Universities. Gillespie also wants to make sure the degrees we are conferring are of value in the market place. “There are tens of thousands of open jobs in the cyber field. We need to fill those with our people before the jobs leave the Commonwealth.”
Diana Burke asked Mr. Gillespie questions on tourism. “I am not for changing the start dates for schools and I want to foster more tourism for outdoor recreation.” Gillespie said he is supportive of giving Virginia the option for offshore energy. “There may be a time in our economy when it makes sense but I don’t see the demand for it right now.”
John DeGruttola asked about Gillespie about growth in the healthcare and medical industries. “Virtual healthcare depends on high speed internet access across Virginia. That could be an area of real growth. We need more competition in the insurance marketplace. 57 localities have only one insurer on the exchange.”
Gillespie wrapped up with a question about Republicans and Democrats working together. “I don’t care where an idea comes from. If it is good for Virginia, I’ll fight for it whether it came from a Republican, Democrat or Independent.”
The next four years are critical. “Virginia will either become the northernmost southern state with sunny economies or the southernmost northern state with stagnant economies.”
The Hampton Roads Chamber urges all members and potential members to visit the candidates’ websites to learn where they stand on the issues that matter to you.