The size and role of government is a smoking hot topic in politics these days. So when Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell announced that a state grant of $4 million was part of a deal that brought the Redskins’ training camp to Richmond and committed the team to staying in Loudoun County and expanding its facility it raised some questions.
It just so happened that the governor had his monthly appearance on WRVA radio in Richmond on Thursday and he fielded a question from a caller about the grant. The caller said “it’s not the role of government to subsidize sports.”
McDonnell said that while he understood the caller’s general point there were larger considerations.
“There are certain incentives that do work to bring jobs to Virginia and to be able to provide new opportunities for the citizens of Virginia, and I think that's a legitimate role for government,” said McDonnell.
"If we had not acted, and $9.8 million of tax revenue had walked out the door to another jurisdiction, I'm sure that many citizens would have been concerned about the fact that we'd then have a $9.8 million budget gap in our … economy," he added.
Like it or not, state government incentives are a part of the cost of doing business these days. If one state doesn’t offer up a package of tax breaks and subsidies for a business to relocate or remain there, another state will. In trying to save a few million dollars the first state loses tens of millions in tax revenue.
The City of Richmond will pony up $400,000 out of its capital improvement fund to help prepare a training camp location for the team. Camp is expected to generate some $5 million in economic activity annually so the city should get a return on its investment.
McDonnell does not know where in Richmond the site for camp will be and he said it’s not his call.
"My role was to make sure we got the deal in Virginia," he said. "The details of how and where they practice and play is going to be solely up to the city of Richmond. I'm sure they've got several venues they're looking at."