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VEXIT: What really happens if Virginia counties secede?

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Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is floating an idea that would have conservative Virginia counties seceding and becoming part of West Virginia.

I’m not making this up.

“What’s happening in Virginia right now is a tragedy in the making,” Falwell said at a joint press conference with West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday. “Democratic leaders in Richmond, through their elitism and radicalism, have left a nearly unrecognizable state in their wake.

“They are using their power to strip away the God-given rights held by every person in the state, despite their protections under the U.S. Constitution,” Falwell said. “The threat from the radical left is real and is spreading across our country and tearing our national family apart at the seams.”

“Under Gov. Justice’s leadership, West Virginia has become more attractive as an economic success story and a freedom-loving refuge by the day,” Falwell continued, by way of sales pitch.

The sales pitch for: VEXIT.

I wish I was making this up.

The odd part to the pitch came from Justice.

Dude wants folks on the east side of the border to think West Virginia is prosperous.

“We have thousands of good-paying, high-quality jobs just waiting to be filled,” said Justice, whose state has a current unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, which is fine, and also significantly higher than the 2.6 percent unemployment rate in Virginia.

But, I mean, fake news, left-leaning liberal media fact-checking a patriot, right?

“Our state supports personal freedom and we value the Second Amendment and the rights of the unborn. Come join us. You will never regret it,” Justice said.

There’s your money quote.

Actually, no, here’s your money quote:

“Count me in on this push for counties to leave Virginia,” Falwell said. “If the groundswell of support grows for counties to leave, what’s also certain is that they will be joining the Mountain State miracle that Gov. Jim Justice has engineered.”

Again, fact-checking, there is this additional not-all-that-miraculous economic reality: median household income in West Virginia is $44,097.

Compared to median household income in Virginia: $71,535.

I guess to be fair, we have Northern Virginia, and West Virginia is West Virginia.

Look up at Fairfax County, for instance. Median household income there is, gulp, $122,227.

Need to factor that out to get a better apples-to-apples.

How about Augusta County? Median household income here: $61,305.

I did checks of other locales along the Interstate 81 corridor to get a wider sense, and the only one that comes in higher than ours here is Frederick County, where the median household income is an impressive $73,250, though everywhere else – from Rockbridge to Rockingham to Shenandoah – was in the $54,000-plus range, so, all good.

You do the math, and you see that if our part of the I-81 corridor were to float over to West Virginia, we’d be their Northern Virginia, which, news flash, that’s not a good thing.

Because our Northern Virginia is the part of the state where people pay higher local and state taxes to pay for the stuff that we can’t afford for ourselves.

To wit: local schools.

Again, looking at Augusta County as the example, the state pays for 54 percent of our local school budget.

Compare that to counties in Northern Virginia, where state dollars account for 11-12 percent of overall school spending.

Local school spending in West Virginia breaks down similarly to what we spend in Augusta County, with state and federal dollars making up for 56-60 percent of overall spending, from my reviews of several county school budgets online.

Problem for us is that a good bit more of the money for school spending in West Virginia comes from federal sources, because West Virginia is a low-income state.

Indeed, West Virginia gets the seventh-highest amount of federal dollars toward its schools per pupil in the nation.

A theoretical infusion of relatively high-income counties from Virginia would no doubt skew the formula, and put more pressure on state lawmakers to come up with money to account for the difference.

And, guess who would end up footing that bill?

Answer: the counties joining the, ahem, Mountain State miracle, who, by the way, are used to certain standards, having been subsidized by those liberal elites in Northern Virginia all these years.

Augusta County, for instance, in the current budget, spends $11,222.12 per pupil on education. Compare that to Hardy County just over the state line, where spending is at $10,072.00 per student.

They get all those federal dollars, and still spend 10 percent less per kid.

They also get more dollars for local law enforcement from the state and feds, and yet still spend 10 percent less than we do in Augusta County on public safety.

Schools and safety are two fundamental functions of government. Looks like if we were to join that Mountain State miracle, we’d pay more and get less.

But I’m saying that, and of course I get what the ultimate aim of seceding from Virginia to become part of West Virginia would achieve.

It’s like the old MasterCard commercials.

Taxes: through the roof.

Quality of life: yeah, not nearly as good.

The stunned look on the faces of all the libs in Northern Virginia that you just owned: wait, are they throwing us a good-bye party?

Story by Chris Graham

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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