In his final State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Ralph Northam said that his administration had been focused on helping people. He highlighted economic success, investment in skills training, education that reckons with Virginia’s past, clean energy, criminal justice reform, election law changes, and infrastructure investment.
“We are leaving this Commonwealth better than it was when we came into office. We have built a state that does a better job of treating people right. It’s more welcoming, more open, more fair and equitable. We have built a state that helps people who need it—whether they need health care, or cleaner water, or to keep a roof over their head during a global pandemic,” Northam said.
“We have built a state that recognizes the wrongs of the past, and works to reckon with and rectify them. We have built a state where everyone has greater access to opportunity—the opportunity to get what you need, to build the life you want to live, where you want to live it. Everything we have built and accomplished over these four years, has been about helping people,” he continued.
As he highlighted his policy wins, he included some warnings about potential Republican policy.
“But we cannot pick and choose history based on how it makes us feel. We need to understand the full and true story—and put a black child’s right to have her history included in our textbooks before our own desire to feel comfortable,” he said. “That is the only way we can understand how yesterday affects today—and make changes for tomorrow.”
He said Virginia’s current election rules work.
Northam said, “Our elections are fair and transparent. And it’s really important for voters to hear that message—especially from those of you elected to office under these rules. It does tremendous damage when elected officials use false claims to undermine faith in our elections. Voters deserve better, and our elected officials need to do better, and not perpetuate anyone’s big lie.”
Before the speech, Republican caucus leaders issued press releases with their response.
“The decisive results of November’s elections, with Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares prevailing, signaled that Virginians wanted to move in a different direction. Returning Republicans to the majority in the House of Delegates only reinforced the people’s desire for positive change,” Senator Todd Pillion (R-Washington) said.
He added, “During last year’s campaign and in the days since his election, Governor-Elect Youngkin has signaled a change not only in policy, but in perspective and tone, as well. His emphasis will be on unity, bringing Virginians together by advancing initiatives that will lower your cost of living, create jobs by improving our business climate, and make our streets and neighborhoods safer.”
Delegate Tara Durant (R-Stafford) reviewed the Republican agenda, including tax cuts and tough-on-crime policy. Education policy came in first.
“Our agenda for the coming session was set last year, as each of us went to thousands of our fellow Virginians and asked them what was on their minds. They told us, in no uncertain terms, that our Commonwealth was on the wrong track and we needed to change course,” she said. “Parents told us they were worried about their children’s education. They told us virtual education was a failure, and that their children were falling behind, and that falling standards could hobble their children’s future.”
She said, “Republicans listened. This session we’re going to bring forward legislation that would ensure our standards only go higher, and that our schools get the resources they need to not only pay our teachers well, but rebuild schools that for far too long have been crumbling.”
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