Delegate Massie’s Speech to the General Assembly

I wanted to share with you a transcript of the speech that Delegate James P. Massie III made to the General Assembly today on the state of Virginia’s economic growth.

Economic Growth Speech

Delivered by the Hon. James P. Massie III

February 4, 2016

Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House: economic growth, job creation and wage growth is the most important public policy challenge facing our country and our Commonwealth! The rate of real economic growth is the single greatest determinate of both America’s strength as a nation, the well-being of the American people and the wellbeing of all Virginians!

Without economic growth Mr. Speaker…we cannot adequately pay for our national defense, our state and local public safety, provide for our families, educate our children or take care of those who cannot take care of themselves!

And Mr. Speaker… I have some dire…frightening news with respect to economic growth, job creation and wage growth: the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported last Friday that in 2015 U.S. real GDP growth was just 2.38%. Given that, 2015 will have been the tenth year, the tenth year in a row Mr. Speaker that real GDP growth came in under 3%. To put that in historical perspective, the previous longest such stretch of sub 3% growth was for 4 years only, not 10, from 1930 through 1933, or during the Great Depression! Mr. Speaker, we are experiencing the worst economic recovery from a recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Even worse Mr. Speaker, the Congressional Budget Office is now forecasting that the United States of America will NEVER…NEVER see 3% growth again!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the 50 years from 1964 through 2014, average hourly real wages, in 2014 constant dollars, for production and non-supervisory employees in the private sector grew only 7.76% from $19.18 per hour to $20.67. Only an 8% real pay raise over 50 years?

With respect to Virginia, Mr. Speaker, in 2014 according to the US Department of Commerce our state’s real GDP growth was ZERO %. That ranked Virginia 48th in the country only ahead of Alaska and Mississippi. For the decade from 2004 through 2014 Virginia’s compound annual growth rate was ONLY 1.3% per year!

Mr. Speaker, we are in the process of leaving our children, and our grandchildren, as their inheritance from us, a nation and a Commonwealth with much…much less economic opportunity than we ourselves inherited! We are also leaving them a $19 trillion national debt or $59,000 of debt for every man, women and child! And, Mr. Speaker, the federal government continues to spend almost $450 million an hour with revenues of only $385 million an hour. Thus, deficit spending is at the rate of $65 million an hour.

And Mr. Speaker, this dismal current and projected, economic performance is a self-inflicted, avoidable public policy wound. It is the result of higher punitive marginal tax rates, a regulatory environment on irrational steroids, Obamacare, Dodd Frank, the Clean Power Plan and on and on and on poor public policy decisions!

This data is clear, Mr. Speaker, the Obama-McAuliffe economic track record of the past seven plus years has been, and is projected to be, a record of dismal failure! Again, a self-inflicted poor public policy wound! A clear result, or indicator of this dismal economic failure is the Donald Trump and Bernie Sander’s economic populism that is selling so well to those large swaths of Virginians who are rightfully angry because they, and their families, are doing so poorly!

Mr. Speaker, this Obama-McAuliffe track record of economic failure is unacceptable! It makes me and many Virginians very, very angry because our government is failing us!

What has, and what will the House Republican Caucus, hopefully in a bipartisan manner, do about this dismal economic performance?

The House of Delegates has led the effort to create many good paying jobs for Virginians! Since 2003 we have defeated 26 separate job-killing taxes that would have cost Virginia’s families over $30 billion. We have fostered a reasonable state regulatory and tort environment. We passed legislation to encourage entrepreneurs and innovators to invest in start-up companies via crowd funding and angel tax credits. We have greatly expanded our job creating economic incentive programs especially in fields of the future like technology, data and cyber security. We have worked hard to align our educational system with the needs of the private sector and to streamline our workforce development programs!

But past is prologue Mr. Speaker! Our 2016 economic growth agenda, to mention just five, includes:

  1. Balancing our new two-year budget without a tax increase! Thank you, in advance, Chairman Jones, all our Appropriators and Chairman Ware and all our Finance Committee members!
  2. Enshrining our Right to Work tradition into Virginia’s constitution. Thank you Dickie Bell!
  3. Credentialing workforce training programs. Thank you Kathy Byron!
  4. Establishing Go Virginia, a regional economic development initiative. Thank you Majority Leader Cox and Caucus Chairman Hugo;
  5. And finally, promoting greater transparency in our regulatory process;

Mr. Speaker, despite your Wednesday Bible study on worry, I am worried sick and I am embarrassed, we should all be worried sick about, and we should all be embarrassed by the lack of economic opportunity we are leaving our children and grandchildren as a result of poor public policy! It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to create the public policy environment most conducive to economic growth! We cannot sit on the sidelines and expect this public policy self-inflicted wound to heal on its own!Mr. Speaker, we have a public policy agenda to address this failure during this Session and I sincerely hope we can enact this agenda in a bipartisan manner.

Thank you Mr. Speaker!



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