Governor delivers State of the Commonwealth address
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) — Governor Ralph Northam delivered the State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night.
Watch the entire presentation via WDBJ7+
Click here to read the entire speech, as prepared for delivery by Northam.
Delegate M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and Senator John A. Cosgrove, Jr. (R-Chesapeake) delivered the Republican perspective on the State of Commonwealth.
“Good evening and thank you for joining us following the annual State of the Commonwealth Address. I’m Delegate Kirk Cox from Colonial Heights.
“After a challenging and difficult year for our nation and our commonwealth, Virginians look forward to the day when the coronavirus pandemic is behind us. With the arrival of a vaccine in record-breaking time, that day is finally within sight.
“The Northam Administration’s ability to distribute and administer vaccines has been extremely disappointing. Ranking in the bottom third of states nationally, every state we border is doing a better job than Virginia in administering this life-saving vaccine. West Virginia is actually ranked first nationally. This is simply unacceptable.
“This is not the only critical area where Virginia failed to live up to its once-coveted status as America’s best managed state. Thousands of Virginians have had to wait endlessly to receive unemployment benefits, unnecessarily extending their hardship.
“Virginia has to do better. We know that we can, because – until recently – we have consistently been one of America’s leading states in so many important areas.
“In 2020, Governor Northam and the Democrat-majority in the General Assembly abandoned the policies that made Virginia a national leader. They enacted nearly $2 billion in new taxes. They implemented an energy scheme that will cost families hundreds of dollars more every year. And, they imposed new onerous regulations on our businesses struggling to survive.
“Now, more Virginians are moving out of our state than other Americans are moving in. As Democrats refuse to enact policies that would grow our economy, an election that results in new leadership is our best hope to change this trajectory.
“In the meantime, Republicans will be advancing policies to improve the lives of Virginians and the quality of life in Virginia.
“We will be advancing an agenda that gets our kids back in school, and provides assistance to parents who have been forced to take on added responsibilities to ensure their children are learning.
“Having spent 30 years teaching in our public schools, I know first-hand the severe and lasting consequences of having a child fall behind. We cannot condemn an entire generation of Virginia’s students to the enduring effects of an inadequate education.
“With students enrolled in private schools remaining in the classroom, and with schools in other states open for classroom instruction, it is time for Virginia’s public schools to reopen.
“We must also preserve the strong law enforcement policies that made Virginia a national leader in reducing crime and criminal recidivism. Senator John Cosgrove of Chesapeake will be detailing where we stand on this critical quality-of-life issue.
“Keeping our homes and neighborhoods safe requires constant vigilance. The men and women of our police departments and sheriff’s offices know this first-hand. Every day, these officers and deputies put their lives on the line to protect our families. They deserve our support and our thanks.
“In 2020, what had been near-unanimous support for our law enforcement professionals became a political issue. Slogans like ‘Defund the Police’ became actual policy in some large American cities – with devastating consequences to personal safety and property in those communities.
“Here in Virginia, there was actually an effort to end the essential protections law enforcement agencies must have to retain and recruit officers. While this misguided proposal did not advance to the Governor’s desk, its dispiriting effect could be felt by the women and men who carry a badge.
“Every Republican legislator opposed efforts to diminish Virginia’s law enforcement. We will continue to strongly ‘Back the Blue’ again this session.
“Over the course of several decades, Virginia has enacted model laws to ensure the victims of crime receive respect, support, and protection. Virginia’s Parole Board, however, repeatedly disregarded those laws.
“Releasing murderers long before their sentences were complete – including those who had received life sentences – the Parole Board acted without notifying the families of the victims of these horrific crimes. The Northam Administration concealed – and in some cases continues to conceal – the devasting reports of investigations by the State Inspector General of Parole Board misconduct.
“Placing the interests of violent criminals above those of innocent citizens who are the victims of crime isn’t just wrong, it’s unconscionable. It is evidence of an administration with misplaced priorities and misguided values.
“Now, Democrats are spearheading a new initiative to end mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes. These policies were enacted to fight crime and they worked. Unilaterally abandoning proven measures that have made Virginia safer for all its citizens endangers our neighborhoods and our quality of life.
“As we enter the 2021 session, Virginia is no longer the national leader we had been for so long. By adopting common sense policies that open our schools, strengthen our economy, and protect our citizens, we can become a national leader once again.
“Republicans hope to earn your support as we fight for the people of Virginia we are honored to serve.
“I’m Senator John Cosgrove of Chesapeake. Delegate Cox and I thank you for watching tonight. We wish you and your family a happy and blessed new year.”
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