The Libertarian Booster PAC is pleased to present our ratings of the members of the 2018-2019 Virginia state legislature, the General Assembly, based on their votes on various bills.
With average ratings of 16% in the Senate and 18% in the House of Delegates, it’s abundantly clear that the incumbents rarely vote to move public policy in a peaceful and productive direction and any differences between Democrats and Republicans are minor in the big picture. The Virginia legislature is almost equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, with no Libertarians serving.
Libertarians generally favor maximum freedom and a much smaller government, with lower taxes, less government spending, fewer regulations, and fewer restrictions on personal behavior and lifestyles.
People have a variety of preferences and priorities when it comes to religion, education, lifestyles, behavior, finances, and charity. Libertarians embrace diversity and think you should be able to do whatever you want as long as you aren’t infringing on the rights of others.
Much of the conflict in our society is the result of one group of people forcing other groups to do things they don’t want to do.
(continued in report below)
As Libertarians, we believe that government should not force people to pay for other people’s education. Our proposals here are much more limited: they are improvements that we think have some chance in the General Assembly.
Government spending on K-12 education has risen dramatically with no real improvement in outcomes. Libertarian-oriented policies will reduce the burden on taxpayers while improving service for students.
We support increased use of private schools and homeschooling, and expanded school choice for the students attending tax-funded public schools. Currently, education spending is about one-third of Virginia's state budget. We want to reduce state spending on education and to cut taxes accordingly. It’s up to the legislature to impose limits on spending for public schools, and not just pander to every cry for more spending “for the children.”
Most public school revenue comes from local taxes. If the state government’s K-12 budget is cut 10%, that will mean an average K-12 spending cut of about 4%. We recognize that a small cut will require some small sacrifices: slightly lower spending on facilities and sports, slightly lower total compensation for teachers and administrators, and slightly larger class sizes. No one ever likes to give up a penny, but we think a small cut will be easy to handle. If a school simply can’t handle it, it probably should be shut down or converted to a charter school.
Tax Credits and Vouchers
Currently, Virginia has an "Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program." This program helps a small number of lower-income students, but it is limited to $25 million per year, which is less than 0.2 percent of Virginia’s public school expenditures. It’s far too little.
Tax credits and vouchers will make private school attendance affordable for more families, and will also reduce the burden on public schools. Tax credits and vouchers both reduce the burden on the state’s education budget, because the amount redirected to private schools per student is less than the current public school spending per student. (Private schools have a significantly lower expense per student than public schools.) More competition will reduce costs, foster innovation, and lead to schools that better satisfy students, teachers and parents.
Around 10% of students in Virginia already attend private schools.
Although we support tax credits and vouchers, we oppose using them as an excuse to increase government regulations on private schools. Some private schools and charter schools will have problems, just like many public schools do. Perfection is impossible, but private schools have the benefit of competition. Unlike most public schools, if a private school is serving a student badly, the student’s parents can choose a different one.
Different parents want their children to learn different things, in different ways. Government’s one-size-fits-all system causes fights over which textbooks to use, how much to focus on science and math versus arts and humanities, or whether to give religious instruction. We should expand school choice so parents can send their children to the schools that best reflect their values and priorities, and to allow students to escape from the worst teachers.
We support a 10% cut to state spending on colleges and universities.
We recognize that this will result in some sacrifices: sports and amenities budgets may have to be reduced slightly, academic compensation may have to be reduced slightly, and tuitions may have to be increased slightly.
In 2018, the Virginia Senate committee on Education and Health narrowly approved Senate Bill 516 to expand charter schools, but the bill died in the Finance committee. Virginia legislators have not shown much interest in allowing greater school choice. According to Ballotpedia, only 1,200 students attended charter schools in Virginia in 2016, compared to 82,000 in North Carolina. Charter schools are not ideal from a Libertarian perspective, but they generally lower the burden on taxpayers, and they usually perform better than standard public schools.
John Stossel: Private School Success Around the World
Cato: U.S. Charter Schools Produce a Bigger Bang with Fewer Bucks
BallotPedia: School Choice in Virginia
Virginia Institute for Public Policy: The Public Education Tax Credit: Expanding Educational Opportunity in Virginia
Mercatus Center: Government Policy and Tuition in Higher Education
One of our first projects for Libertarian Booster PAC was to update our branding and design a new website.
Our old website and branding served its purpose for 2012-2013 but it was time for an update. The old website is at least temporarily view-able here: https://oldlibertarianboosterpac.weebly.com/
We updated the branding from blue and gold to a gray and gold that more closely matches the colors the Libertarian Party adopted in 2015.
The new website is based on a modern responsive template, meaning the website will render well on any device including cell phones tablets.
After a four-year break, the Libertarian Booster PAC is resuming operations in 2019! Stay tuned for more details.
Libertarian Booster PAC is suspending most activity due to other priorities, but may occasionally take action. The PAC is not accepting additional contributions online at this time. The PAC may become more active again in the future. A big thank you to all our supporters and candidates.
From the Libertarian Party:
November 7, 2013
With Libertarian Sarvis — mission accomplished
In the wake of Republican Ken Cuccinelli's defeat in the race for Virginia Governor, speculation is running rampant in right-wing media that Libertarian Robert Sarvis was a Democratic plant designed to help Terry McAuliffe.
See the article by Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal, and others like it at The Blaze, Breitbart, and this from Rush Limbaugh.
Libertarian National Committee Executive Director Wes Benedict issued the following statement:
I realize that, no matter what I say, paranoid right-wingers will think I'm a sneaky operative trying to help Democrats beat Republicans. This message is for the rational people out there.
I founded the Texas-based Libertarian Booster PAC in late 2011. Its purpose was to recruit and assist Libertarian Party candidates for public office. You can read more about it here.
In 2012, the PAC focused solely on non-federal races in Texas. With satisfactory accomplishments, and no partisan election happening in Texas in 2013, I looked to expand to other states where permitted by law. Virginia was one of two states with a gubernatorial election in 2013 plus state legislative elections, so it was an obvious choice.
Back at the end of 2008, a man contacted me expressing interest in the Libertarian Party. It turned out he was a successful high-tech entrepreneur. One of his comments was along the lines of, "What could the Libertarian Party do if it had a million dollars?" Naturally, I contact this man whenever I think I have a good idea that needs funding.
I've raised $300,000 from this donor for the Libertarian Booster PAC. He has provided very little in the way of instruction or advice regarding use of the money. The one strong suggestion he made was that we should try to build the Libertarian Party by recruiting Hispanics. He thought Democrats were taking Hispanics for granted, and Republicans were often hostile, and perhaps a massive wave of Hispanics could be convinced to join the Libertarian Party since we have a pro-immigration platform.
His suggestion, which I liked, did influence my decision to include a "Liberty for Latinos" issues plank in Texas.
Most political experts would probably say that recruiting Hispanics into the Libertarian Party would hurt Democrats rather than Republicans, since Hispanics lean more Democratic than Republican. So I'm skeptical that this donor is trying to use me to hurt Republicans.
It was my idea, and my decision, to have the Libertarian Booster PAC help recruit Libertarian Party candidates in 2013 in Virginia. I even advertised about it in February.
According to The Blaze, "[Rush] Limbaugh said the Democrats enlisted a 'fake Libertarian candidate' who was 'bought and paid for by an Obama bundler.'" That's an outright lie, and Limbaugh should retract his claim.
My strategies and tactics have never been secret. They are common strategies in the Libertarian Party, and they are the same strategies promoted at the founding of the Libertarian Party. I try to publicize them any way I can. I've even written a book about them and included a chapter about PACs.
I want Libertarians to win elections. But I also want them to run for office even when they're unlikely to win. Why? To get the public to discuss and consider libertarian principles.
Our liberties will not be secure until Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians are all fighting over the best ways to implement libertarian principles.
If I wanted to hurt the Republican in Virginia, I would have supported a right-wing candidate who sounded like a Tea Partier — who only talked about cutting welfare, Obamacare, and how bad Democrats are. I would never have helped someone like Robert Sarvis, who talked a lot about social issues that appeal to liberal voters. As it turned out, polls show that if Sarvis weren't in the race, McAuliffe would probably have won by a slightly bigger margin.
My hope with the Robert Sarvis campaign was for the election to be close between the Democrat and Republican, with the Libertarian getting more votes than in previous elections, and lots of press to follow. Imagine my excitement when the results came in with Sarvis getting 6.5 percent (eight times the previous record in Virginia for a Libertarian for governor), and a narrow spread between the Republican and Democrat.
With Robert Sarvis's outstanding campaign for governor, mission accomplished.
From the LP: Wes Benedict returns as executive director for national LP; Carla Howell becomes political director
From the Libertarian Party:
Wes Benedict, formerly from Texas, has returned to the national LP headquarters to resume his previous position as executive director for the Libertarian National Committee. His focus is on fundraising, LNC project oversight, and general management.
Carla Howell, who served as executive director from December 2011 through July 2013, assumed the position of political director, in which she will focus on recruiting, coaching and supporting candidates, political strategy, media interviews, and party communications.
“Wes Benedict is a highly qualified and welcome addition to the LP headquarters,” Howell said. “He’s focused on results.”
Benedict said, “It’s great to be back, but I also remember how overwhelming this job can be. I’m grateful to have Carla taking care of so many of the key political tasks.”
Wes Benedict served as executive director from July 2009 to December 2011 under former party chairmen Bill Redpath and Mark Hinkle, and now serves under chair Geoffrey J. Neale.
Benedict previously served as executive director of the Libertarian Party of Texas, where he made it one of the best-performing state Libertarian Party affiliates. He recruited a record 173 LP candidates for office in Texas for the November 2008 elections.
While away from the national office, Benedict has been busy promoting Libertarian affiliates and candidates.
He founded the Libertarian Action Super PAC (LASPAC) in 2012 to promote the Libertarian Party nominee for president, and provided promotional materials and advertisements for the Gary Johnson for President campaign.
He also founded the Texas-based Libertarian Booster PAC, which recruits and assists Libertarian Party candidates for non-federal office. In 2013, the PAC recruited and supported candidates and ballot drives in Virginia, Alabama, and North Dakota.
During his hiatus, Benedict wrote the book Introduction to the Libertarian Party: For Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, and Everyone Else, which describes the structure, history, and activities of the LP, and offers suggestions for becoming a valuable activist. Living in Louisiana, he also served as chair of the Parish Executive Committee of the East Baton Rouge Libertarian Party.
Benedict holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Texas. He has owned a small business, has served as a management consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, and was a manufacturing engineer for 3M Company.
Fox 5 (DC area) covers Robert Sarvis, Libertarian candidate for Virginia governor.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch covers the Virginia governor candidates' reactions to yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Republican candidate supports the Virginia ban on same-sex marriage. The Democratic candidate "said he would not make repealing [the ban] a legislative priority."
Libertarian Robert Sarvis, on the other hand, "promised to lead the fight to recognize same-sex marriage in Virginia and said his campaign's theme is: 'Open-minded and Open for Business.'"
Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Bart Hinkle writes today about Robert Sarvis, Libertarian candidate for Virginia governor.
Hinkle says about Sarvis, "He is, to put it mildly, smart –- having earned degrees in math from Harvard and Cambridge, then a law degree from NYU, then a master's in economics from GMU. He is a native Virginian. Half-Asian, with an African-American wife, he is bulletproof on diversity grounds. He is wonkish: As a fellow at GMU's Mercatus Center, he co-authored, among other things, a paper on America's historical experience with fiscal stimuli. And he is a technological innovator: He was a winner of Google's 2008 Android Developer challenge for mobile apps."