Governor Bob McDonnell delivered his final State of the Commonwealth Address Wednesday night, asking Virginians to judge him for the accomplishments of his entire term, and not the gift scandal of the last year.
He received a warm reaction from a joint session of the General Assembly.
McDonnell's speech highlighted his accomplishments during the last four years, and the hope that controversy won't obscure his record.
“Where some may have hoped for conflict, we instead forged consensus,” McDonnell said.
The governor made the case that his four years as the state's chief executive reflect sound management, and the ability to solve problems in economic development, education, and transportation.
“And when that bill came to the floor Delegate Onzlee Ware stood up to give a strong final speech in favor of its passage. Onzlee got his train and then promptly retired,” McDonnell said.
A speech that reflected the Governor's sense of humor took a more serious tone near the end when he addressed the gift scandal of the last year. Saying the choices he made were legal, he repeated his apology to the people of Virginia.
“I have prayed fervently that the collective good we have done over the past four years will not be obscured by this ordeal,” McDonnell said.
One of the most poignant moments came early in the speech, when he departed from the script and addressed state Senator Creigh Deeds.
“I also want to say, Creigh, we love you,” McDonnell said to applause.
At the end of the speech, McDonnell said he hopes bipartisanship will prevail after he leaves office. After focusing on what he called joint accomplishments of the last four years, McDonnell urged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to work with the three Democrats who will take office on Saturday.
Even though the state budget has grown substantially, Gov. Bob McDonnell says government is doing more with less as he leaves office.
In his final State of the Commonwealth speech Wednesday night, McDonnell noted that the number of non-higher education state employees has been reduced by about 2,000 and 36 boards and nine agencies have been consolidated or eliminated.
The overall two-year budget has increased from $70 billion in 2010 to a proposed $96 billion for the next biennium. But McDonnell says that from 2007 to 2016, general fund spending will have grown an average of only 1.2 percent annually, which is less than the rate of inflation and population growth.
And he notes that the state's savings account has grown from $295 million to $1 billion during his term.
See full transcript from Wednesday's State of the Commonwealth address here: http://bit.ly/1fesv7n
Governor Bob McDonnell delivers his final State of the Commonwealth Address Wednesday night.
What is normally a valedictory speech will take on a new dimension after a difficult year that included an ethics investigation. McDonnell will be making the case that other things should define his four years in office.
"I hope that people look back and say that the state was well run. That we advanced the ball, left the campground better than we found it and big problems got solved. And Republicans and Democrats worked together. And if I leave with people saying that I'll consider it a success," McDonnell said.
At 7 p.m., Governor McDonnell will give his final State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the General Assembly.