Carroll Foy releases COVID-19 economic recovery plan
Virginia, on the aggregate, has done reasonably well economically holding up through COVID-19, but more than 200,000 people who lost their jobs because of COVID are still out of work.
Jennifer Carroll Foy, a former state delegate running for the Democratic Party nomination for governor, is working to address where we are, and where we’re headed post-COVID.
Carroll Foy on Tuesday released a policy plan that centers on providing relief to the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who lost work during the pandemic, as well as small businesses traditionally left behind in favor of massive corporations and special interests.
Carroll Foy’s plan rejects the false choice that an economic plan of this kind must be either pro-business or pro-worker. Her plan ensures the Commonwealth has more shovel-ready projects, does not misclassify workers — especially domestic workers — as contractors so they go without benefits, and provides small businesses with capital to recover and expand.
The sum effect is to ensure that Virginia remains the best state in the nation to do business while diversifying its economy and lifting up workers, especially people of color and veterans, so Virginians can get back to work in a range of fields.
“This plan is important to me because I’ve lived the everyday struggle of economic insecurity. I grew up in Petersburg, a town that was left behind, in a community fighting every day just to get by,” Carroll Foy said. “When Petersburg’s businesses closed, poverty crept in. Those experiences drove my determination to build this plan, to help Virginians get back on their feet, addressing problems that are more visible than ever during COVID-19 but have existed for far too long.
“One thing I know for sure is that the choice between strong economic growth, job protections, and high wages is a false choice. Virginia can be the best place in the country to do business, and also the best place in the country to live, work, and raise kids with a job that sustains an entire family. This plan will achieve those goals.”
The full plan can be read here. Highlights of the plan include:
Fixing Virginia’s broken unemployment insurance system
- Improve administrative issues within the VEC to expedite arrival of needed benefits. Specifically, the plan will invest in hiring more employees at the VEC, as well as updated technology so unemployed Virginians do not have to wait for months to receive benefits.
- Implement automatic increases in funding for the VEC within a certain threshold. Carroll Foy will prioritize legislation to put automatic contingency plans in place so that whenever unemployment in Virginia rises to a particular level there is a corresponding increase in VEC funding.
- Bring Virginia’s weekly maximum unemployment rate up to meet the regional average. Currently, Virginia’s weekly maximum rate is $378 while Maryland’s is $430 and DC’s is $444. The plan levels the playing field as Virginians hustle to find new work.
Protect and promote small business
- Strengthen small business access to capital by allocating $4 million per year to an expanded Angel Investor Tax credit program. It will expand Virginia’s version of the Angel Investor Tax credit to encompass more small businesses, including restaurants, manufacturing businesses, and more. The plan also requires financial entities to devote a certain proportion of their resources to angel investments and increase the percentage of funds invested by state pension programs that are going to angel investments.
- Ensure small businesses have the PPE to reopen safely and confidently through targeted tax credits on PPE purchases. During FY22, a Carroll Foy Administration will invest $5 million in service of this effort. It will also invest state funding to offset business costs to maintain COVID-19 safety standards.
- Provide small businesses with the resources they need to grow. The Virginia Small Business Development Center Network offers counseling services and business training at no-cost to small business owners and entrepreneurs. The Carroll Foy administration will invest an additional $50,000 in FY22 and FY23 to grow these efforts and will expand similar programs.
- Support small, women- owned, and minority-owned (SWaM) businesses. The Carroll Foy Administration will increase the Commonwealth’s discretionary spending for buying goods and services from SWaM businesses to historic 45 percent. The Administration will also direct the Executive branch with procurement responsibilities to review practices and procedures to identify and remove barriers to SWaM participation.
- Promote programs aimed at diversifying Virginia’s economy. The Carroll Foy Administration will promote and advance programs like The Virginia Initiative for Growth & Opportunity, which awards grants based on population for regional and statewide projects so Virginia is less affected by national trends in Washington, D.C.
- Create a Microloans for Veterans Program (MVP). The Carroll Foy administration will invest $1 million dollars annually to support veteran-owned businesses through micro-loans. This continues her work as Delegate to support veteran-owned businesses, when she passed legislation to permit service disabled veteran-owned businesses to be able to obtain business supplies and resources from the Commonwealth.
Build a world-class workforce
- Invest in training the next generation of high-tech workers from diverse backgrounds. The plan ensures that students from all backgrounds have access to computer coding education. The Carroll Foy administration will ensure teachers have training and resources to teach coding courses.
- Grow the field of professionals working with alternative energy resources. The administration will direct funding to the Solar Hands-On Instructional Network of Excellence (SHINE) and other programs to expand education and training opportunities for workers interested in solar and offshore wind careers. To that effect, we will allocate an additional $2 million annually from FY22 to FY25 to ensure these programs maximize job creation amidst Virginia’s transition to a clean energy economy.
- Bolster public awareness of union apprenticeship programs in the skilled trades. Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training and job-related instruction in a model that benefits both apprentices and employers, and apprentices receive a paycheck from their first day on the job that increases with their skill level.
- Expedite economic development projects. The Carroll Foy administration will assemble an ample, strategic portfolio of project-ready sites and buildings across Virginia. To do this, we will work with VEDP and others to implement an expedited permitting program for employers who bring family-sustaining paying jobs to Virginia, while focusing on building more attractive sites in rural Virginia and small metro areas.
- Expand access to the internet. The Carroll Foy administration will provide additional funds to the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) to ensure thousands of Virginians currently unserved by any broadband provider will have access to high speed internet. Additionally, it will work to eliminate barriers that prevent municipal authorities and electric cooperatives from deploying broadband to underserved communities.
- Promote opportunities in rural and Southwest Virginia. The Carroll Foy administration will direct state funding to colleges and universities in Southwest Virginia, and we will invest $2 million over the next two years for the development of a Family Nurse Practitioner program at UVA-Wise.
- Market Virginia to attract new business in the United States and abroad. The administration will develop a program to engage the business community in economic development recruitment efforts. This initiative, modeled after Georgia Allies, would leverage resources between state government and private corporations to retain and recruit businesses. It also increases funding for Virginia’s International Trade Program.
- Crack down on worker misclassification. New jobs in the technology, home healthcare, construction, and domestic work industries have the potential to create thousands of new jobs. However, too many of the workers are misclassified as independent contractors, which prevents them from receiving benefits and family-sustaining wages. The Carroll Foy administration will work to pass legislation to ensures that no company misclassifies workers as independent contractors.