Contributing to Virginia. Helping to make it a better place.
Kyle McCullough is a senior programmer at American Type Culture Collections (ATCC), a non-profit corporation, based in Manassas, that supports medical research and disease prevention. He lives in Manassas with his wife Lina and their two teenage sons. Their daughter lives in Richmond. He received his bachelor's degree from Southern College of Technology in Georgia.
Kyle was raised by parents who instilled a strong sense of integrity and civic responsibility. His mother was a school teacher, and his father spent many years working in county government. They showed Kyle the positive impact of good government – and made him aware of cost of bad government. Those lessons have pushed him to get more involved in the community.
We have both too much and too little money in American politics. Too much from wealthy elites and too little from ordinary Americans. The result is that big-money special interests basically own the government. An analysis by political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page found that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” A good illustration here in Virginia: Dominion Power, a regulated monopoly, is the largest contributor to campaigns after than Republican and Democratic parties. (Full disclosure, it is also one of my opponent's largest donors.) The State decides how much it can charge (a lot) and how much competition it will face (very little). Anyone see the conflict of interest?
I have a couple of proposals that I think will help this situation: First, get corporate money out of politics. Require that corporations get stockholders' permissions before spending their money on political speech -- at least in Virginia and aimed at influencing Virginia elections. Stockholders who opt out will get an extra dividend equal to their share of the political expenditures. Sounds complicated and unworkable? It is the exact same requirement that unions have to follow today. And The Supreme Court has already ruled that it is not only Constitutional but, in the case of unions, required. But yes, it is pretty complicated, so I expect the effect will be that companies just get out of the business of electioneering and back to the business of business. I'm fine with that.
Second, we need public financing of campaigns. I propose that Virginia provide a line on its income tax form similar to the Federal: "Do you want $3 to go to the Presidential campaign fund?" One big difference: the taxpayer should decide where the money goes; they can choose any political party or campaign. This will effectively become a second way, after the ballot box, for voters to express their preference.
As the father of two school-aged children, and one recently-graduated from college, Kyle McCullough has seen that our schools are overcrowded and many are in need of repair. Richmond continues to be behind 2008 levels in per-pupil spending, and we rank near the bottom in teacher pay, despite being one of the wealthiest states in the country. If we want world class schools, we need to invest more in them and pay teachers a decent wage.
It is time for Virginia to raise the minimum wage. A phased-in increase (McCullough's plan is to have mandatory raises at three months and six months) will help hundreds of thousands of working Virginians, while encouraging entry-level hiring.
We should be providing paid sick leave and maternity leave to maintain a healthy workforce across Virginia.
By leveraging Virginia's good credit rating, we can make sure that student loans carry the lowest possible interest rates. Our young people should not be saddled with crushing debt, just to get an education.
It is irresponsible that Virginia continues to reject $5 million a day in federal health care assistance to working Virginians. That money would provide quality care to thousands of Virginians, lower insurance costs to nearly all Virginians and create about 23 thousand jobs in the process.
We must also stop the attacks on women’s health. A Woman’s options should be between herself and her doctor, not legislators in Richmond.