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tv   Virginia State of the Commonwealth  CSPAN  January 15, 2020 10:13pm-11:20pm EST

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(applause) please be speeded.
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it is my pleasure to present to you his excellency, the governor of the commonwealth of virginia, the honorable ralph at northam. >> thank you all. thank you.
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>> >> well, good evening, ladies and gentlemen. happy new year and thank you for the warm welcome. to my wife pam, lieutenant governor fairfax, and attorney general hearing, justices of the supreme court, newly elected members, old friends of my cabinet and staff, thank you all for your service to our commonwealth. and good evening to madam speaker and madam president. (applause) the chamber looks
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pretty good from up here doesn't it? (laughs) (laughs) you know it's a proud moment to look out and see general assembly that reflects more than ever the virginia that we see every day. (applause) this is truly an historic night. just one week ago, we closed a decade that sometimes challenged our fundamental beliefs and even made us question what it means to live
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in a changing america. so tonight, let us recall some basic facts. because we have a lot to be thankful for. and countless reasons for pride, hope, and optimism. today, around the world, scientific advances mean people live longer than ever before. capitalism enables more people to live in prosperity than ever. and democracy gives more people than ever before the opportunity to live in freedom and shape their future. we should celebrate these amazing human achievements because today, we live at the greatest moments in the greatest states and the greatest country in human history. but if we are
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honest, it doesn't always feel that way. our country is divided. people are angry, left, right, center, urban, rural, men, women, politics have grown too much about tearing each other down and too little about public service. and eight days into 2020 we know we have a long and painful election year ahead. we just closed out a decade that brought a lot of change. the pace of change can be disorienting. and it's only getting faster. ten short years ago, i had served in the senate just a couple of years. i've cherished the opportunity to serve and i'm thinking about that a lot tonight. but ten years ago, most of you were not
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here. especially in the house of delegates. everyone has a new role today. these new roles bring new responsibilities. the changes in this general assembly reflect the changes in virginia. virginia has grown by 600,000 people since then. that's like adding a new richmond and a new virginia beach in just a decade. ten short years ago, our country still reeled from the global economic collapse brought on by a wall street greed. and nearly one of every ten americans was out of work. today, more people are working than ever before. statewide unemployment has dropped to record lows. that's good, and we need to keep this
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momentum going. but wages haven't kept up. too many people are underemployed and we can't ignore that fact. (applause) the stock market has soared over these ten years. so have home prices. that's good news if you're already doing well, but not if you're trying to. many parts of virginia have grown as opportunity expands. others have shrunk as opportunity recedes. the climate is changing and sea levels are rising. just ask the navy, the shipyards, our friends on tangier island, or anyone who lives or works in hampton roads. virginia is changing. these are simply
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facts. in politics, over these past ten years, if you understood these facts, and you embraced change, then you advanced. if not, you fell behind. i have been really excited about tonight. what an amazing opportunity for everyone here, and everyone at home to witness history. tonight after 400 years, the first women are leading this to join assembly. all congratulate them. we (applause) we celebrate this
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milestone, and we begin a new era. we spell that e-r-a. (applause) we serve the people, and they have been clear: they expect us to face virginia's modern challenges and lead the
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way forward to make our shared home and even better place to live and work. their expectations are really simple. virginians want a well-paying job, and the chance to get ahead. they want their children to have a world-class education. they want to be healthy. they want to live in a clean environment. they want to be treated fairly and to participate in our civic life. they want to feel safe and they want an inclusive virginia, embracing diversity, no matter the color of your skin, no matter what country you come from, what religion you practice, or who you love. (applause) i hear it all the
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time. this is the work they have sent us here to do and this is our job for the next 60 days and beyond. and tonight, it's my job to lay out where we should go and how we will get there. as a doctor, i swore an oath: first, to do no harm. i've learned that's a pretty good lesson for a public official, too. we start by protecting people's money. this means building up financial reserves and preserving our aaa bond rating. this is really important because it makes everything we do easier and less expensive. so i have sent you a budget that boosts our financial reserves to $1.9 billion. this is six times what we had in the bank when i came
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into office. our savings were so low, that a rating agency put us on credit watch. we were at risk for a downgrade and that would be bad. it's just like your own credit. if your score goes down, it is harder to borrow money to buy a car, or to fix up your house and it costs more. a good credit rating is about saving money, and that's why it's so important. it is a critical tool to help us keep our economic momentum going. our economic climate has brought virginia one of the country's lowest unemployment at 2.6%. it's rarely been this slow in the technology era, and every
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region of virginia is experiencing a lower unemployment rate than a year ago. our economic climate brought amazon to northern virginia and i have taken them to southwest virginia to encourage investment there as well. that project lead to a plan to train 31000 people in computer science all across virginia. our economic climate brought morgan olson to danville, pennsylvania county, creating 700 new manufacturing jobs. it brought aero farms there too, to build the world's largest and most sophisticated vertical farm. agriculture
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remains the largest sector of virginia's economy, and it is changing fast too. i spend a lot of time listening to entrepreneurs around the country and around the world. they all tell me we want to do business in virginia. we need businesses to keep saying that. we also know that the race for talent is on. low unemployment needs competition for workers. but just because you have a job doesn't always mean you that you can survive on it. that people who are building our economy, should benefit from it. these companies, that recognize this, will get ahead. so let's work together, to raise the minimum wage.
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(applause) and let's work together to help companies properly distinguish between contractors and employees. this will help workers get the fair treatment and benefits they deserve. and let's always remember that good conditions for workers, depend on a strong economy, and a strong business climate. that's how healthy and prosperous states generate the revenue to invest in safe streets, public education, good transportation networks, and more. as you drove to richmond for this session, you saw numerous road projects underway all over virginia. improvements and i 81, i 64, 95, 395, just
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to name a few. the hampton roads bridge tunnel is being expanded. and we're moving forward on to new bridges across the potomac river, one for cars and trucks, the other for trains. this is -- (applause) a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make our rail system work better for commuters and passengers across all of virginia, throughout the southeast, and along the entire east coast. we are modernizing the port of virginia to make it the deepest on the atlantic coast, so we can welcome the world's largest ships and export our goods to every corner of the globe. i thank you for supporting investments in this important
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infrastructure because transit systems, bridges, and roads enable virginia to compete in a fast-changing global economy. we have to invest to remain competitive. it's no secret that the current way we fund transportation is simply not sustainable. states across the country are dealing with this. clearly it's good that people are burning less gas and driving cleaner and more efficient cars. but that means revenues are dropping while transportation costs are rising. we need to reform transportation funding this session and start to make new investments in transit to help commuters and low-income people get to work. (applause) we also need to invest in broadband. (applause) because the changing
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economy is about much more than moving people and goods, it's also about moving information. broadband has become an economic necessity for business, for education, for healthcare, and for everyday life. so i have sent you a budget that invests $35 million each year to get more communities connected. and i ask you to pass it. a changing economy requires us to think about education in new ways. in the past, we've thought of early childhood education merely as babysitting. but today, research shows that learning starts much earlier than we used to believe. the experiences children have in their earliest years lead to lifelong results. as a
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pediatric neurologist and a parent, i know that learning needs to start earlier. so i've sent you a comprehensive plan for early childhood education. this plan will invest 95 million new dollars to help at risk three and four-year-olds start learning sooner. this means training educators, providing support, and setting accountability standards. i am grateful to the first lady for bringing together the early childhood community, parents, providers, the business
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community, and more. they all know that if we invest in little learners today, we'll see great results for our adults tomorrow. (applause) other states have done this, and it's time for virginia to get moving. then we need to invest in our k-12 public schools with teacher raises, more guidance counselors, and extra funds for high-need schools. this budget
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increases at-risk add-on for educationally at-risk to students by $140 million. this is the largest single increase to this funding source in virginia's history. and it's a critical investment in helping raise student achievement. an investment in public schools is an investment in students and our economy. that's why it's so important. in fact, education represents 38% of the new spending in this budget. away
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the largest new investment we have proposed. then after high school, people need to get job skills. there are lots of ways to do this, from registered apprenticeship programs to virginia's community colleges. they understand what employers need, and everyone can get to them. they're nimble, and they are changing fast to meet the needs of employers. a changing economy requires us to think about their students in new ways, too. in the past, when people finished high school, they got a job or started a family, and then went back we called them nontraditional students. but today, that describes a lot more students than ever, and many of them face two big barriers to getting advanced education. the cost and life itself. here's an example. at reynolds community college here in richmond, a majority of students are people of color. the college looked at
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retention rates: who starts a degree program in then goes on to complete it? they identified students who started one academic year in didn't come back the next. they asked, why didn't these students come back? the answer is really important. the facts showed it was not academics that kept them from coming back. in fact, these students usually had earned a 3.1 grade point average when they left school. let that sink in for a minute. these students enrolled in a degree program, trying to get his skill so that they can get a job and provide for the people they love. they set a goal, they worked hard, they performed well, but dropped out. why? they left because life got in the way. the car broke down, or the baby got sick, or they lost their job, just trying to get ahead
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and then life hits you. if you're that person and life gets in the way, you're out of luck. and that breaks my heart. here's the good news, reynolds found ways to help, and now virginia needs to help too. so i'm sending you a proposal to help people get skills, get a job, and give back. we call it g3. we'll make a deal with people trying to get ahead. if you need help and if you choose to go into a high-demand field like healthcare, early childhood education, i.t., public safety, or the skilled trades, and if you commit to community service, then virginia will cover your tuition, fees, and books. and
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if pell grants already do that, we will give you a stipend, a thousand dollars a semester to help with transportation, childcare, the rent, or even food. to help with life. that's a small amount for the commonwealth but it can build you a future you never thought possible. in return, we will ask you to serve the community. virginia will be one of the first states in the country to do this. this program is about people, but remember this, this is an investment in our economy too. because virginia is one of
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the few states that had record unemployment and lots of people who are underemployed. and hundreds of companies that need workers, and too many places where too many people are stuck in poverty, especially in urban and rural virginia. so i intend to keep the classroom to career pipeline open, and to keep our economic momentum going. so let's work together to help people get skilled, get a job, and give back. that's just one way we are making it easier to go to college. we're also increasing funding to make public colleges more affordable for students. we are increasing the tuition assistant grants that make private colleges more affordable for virginia
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students. we're making it easier for dreamers to attend college and get ahead with in-state tuition. we are increasing higher education grants for veterans and the national guard. this is an important way to honor their service, especially now as tensions rise in the middle east. we're also increasing funding for virginians to -- two public historically black colleges and universities. they
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play a critical role in training our workforce and these funds will help bring them more in line with other universities. please welcome president abdullah from virginia's state and the president from norfolk state who are with us in the gallery tonight. i want us to also work together to make sure that people have a roof over their heads. affordable housing helps attractive jobs and build thriving communities. but the
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basic necessity is out of reach for far too many people, especially in a strong economy. so i'm proposing to triple the virginia housing trust fund, which works to increase affordable housing and keep people from experiencing homelessness. we're also proposing a new program to help reduce evictions. it changes everything when you have a safe place to come home to every night. i saw that recently when i met miss karen harris in richmond. she had been without a place to live for more than 20 years. living on the streets, she told me it feels like there's no hope, that no one
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cares. then three years ago, she got a place to live, a group called virginia supportive housing helped her find it. they help people in lots of ways, from managing their health needs to filling out paperwork. it is a great program. they demonstrate that the best way to make sure people have a roof over their head is to put a roof over their head. and guess what happened when she got a safe place to live? her physical health improved. her mental health improved. the fear is gone. she's working, she's learning new things, and she's giving back. her life has literally been transformed. she told me, i don't have to just exist in this world anymore.
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now i have a chance to live. do you want to know why this affordable housing proposal is so important? look up there and see the big smile on ms. harris'face. please welcome her to the gallery. thank you for being with us. please stand. now, let's turn to healthcare. none of us wants to worry about it, not even a physician. we
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all want it to be more affordable and easier to understand. for years, folks tried to expand medicaid in virginia. we got it done together. today, 375,000 virginians now have access to care. that's good news and now there is more to do. i ask you to pass the healthcare equity budget i sent you last month. do you want to see new mothers
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get more home visits? >> yes. >> should new mothers, when their baby is born? -- do you want to fund a doula program in the community? to help reduce maternal mortality? do you want more sickle cell services and more healthcare in communities
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with high need? this budge does all that. do you want more behavioral healtcare and community services? do you want military service members and veterans to have better access to healthcare? well, this budget does that too. this is the first time virginia has invested in all of this in a serious way. this is the right thing to do for people. as we shape a virginia, that represents everyone. this also has real economic outcomes. when people are healthy, they can work and contribute to our economy. it's good for
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everyone. i also ask you to take three more actions to make healthcare easier and more affordable. first, i am sending you legislation to create a state run marketplace. this will help people who buy insurance on their own. the federal government runs the current system, and it is not working. virginia can do a better ourselves and save money as well. second, i ask you to create a reassurance program. that helps and jurors cover a high need people. it helps keep premiums low. the federal system used to have one but it ran out, so premiums went up. we will adjust the cigarette tax to pay for it. let's be clear. it will still be lower then every neighboring states but one. and then, it is time to end the laws that restrict a woman's right to direct her own health care.
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(applause) virginia has put these laws in place over the past 20 years or so. they are not about health care. they are about injecting politics and the government into the relationship between a woman and her position. you do not have to be a doctor to know that that is bad medicine. no more world legislators in richmond, most of whom are men, retelling women what they should not be doing with their bodies. it is time to overturn
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these laws. another thing that is important for our future is investing in our natural environment. i grew up on the chesapeake bay and i value the stewardship of our natural resources. this responsibility goes back to the earliest days when our creator charges to care official to see and the birds of there. i have seen have fragile our natural resources can be. i've seen over and over again how a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. so, we made this a priority from the beginning and we have accomplished a lot, starting with combatting climate change. i sent a clear goal to have 3000 megawatts of solar energy
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underway during my term and up to 2500 megawatts from offshore winds soon thereafter. that is enough power to generate enough energy 4 million homes. we aim to have 30% of virginians electricity come from renewable sources in this next decade and to make it 100% carbon free by 2050. we are -- on track to achieve this clean energy bill, and notice, we will get there sooner if technology advances faster and if we can keep rates affordable. i am pushing the energy companies to do just that. we are leading by example.
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last fall, we signed the country's largest contract to buy renewable energy the power state government. we are finally joining the regional greenhouse gas initiative. we are replacing old diesel school buses with new electric buses. we dedicated 20 million dollars from the volkswagen environmental settlement to supercharged the effort, and bringing his first onshore wind project is now moving forward and we have broken ground on the first offshore wind project, about 30 miles off of virginia beach. now it is time to supercharged that as well so, i've sent you plans to create a
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new office of offshore wind. i ask you to do this so virginia can lead in a clean energy. here is why this is so important. that offshore wind project will be enormous. the turbines are huge. they are taller than the statue of liberty. so, you can build them and some far off factory, but the blades on the track i just drive them over. they are just too big. it is best to build them close by, then send them out to sea. here is what is so exciting. this means thousands of advanced manufacturing jobs for hampton roads. this will create an entire new clean
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energy industry here in virginia. it will expand supply chain and logistics opportunities, but we have to invest to make it happen so, i ask you to approve up to 40 million dollars to upgrade the portsmouth marine tournament to get it ready. this is good for the environment and it's good for our economy as well. so, if you believe in clean energy, if you want to see american manufacturing jobs right here in virginia, jobs that will supply parts for all -- offshore wind, up and down the east coast, then, i ask you to pass this budget. an energy is just one of many ways we aim to protect virginia's natural resources. our budget protect open space by tripling our current investment inland
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preservation. it includes major new clean water funding. these investments will help local governments tackle stormwater pollution and upgrade wastewater treatment plants. they will help farmers reduce runoffs and introduce best management practices in conservation and they will help insist -- in the chesapeake bay because a single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day, for us, they are good. and you're good for you. altogether our investments in clean water total more than 400 million dollars and they will put virginia on track to meet our obligation to clean the bay fight the 2025 deadline. we want other chesapeake bay states to look to virginia as
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the clean water leader. let's get it done together. soon after taking office, i ordered the department of environmental quality to modernize updated regulation, strengthening for cement, identify reasons for delays in permitting and improve transparency. these were the first steps in restoring a critical agency that has been cut by 30% over the past decade. we need to keep making progress to this budget includes new funding to help better protect our environment. a major portion is dedicated to community outreach, and it's time to create a permanent environmental justice counsel.
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it is about addressing unity issues. it is about transparency in decision-making. wind projects might affect a neighborhood or historic lands. it is the right thing to do and i ask you to support it. in all of our work, prescribed to treat people fairly and to make it easier to participate in our civic life. basic fairness and equity are the foundation of our legislative agenda for the session. if we're going to move forward as a common well, we must take an honest look at our past. we know that racial discrimination is rooted in many of the laws that have govern our commonwealth, and so we could be in the commission to examine, overtly discriminatory language that is still on our books. these include, believe or not,
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banning school integration, prohibiting black and white virginians from living in the same neighborhoods, and prohibiting people from getting married unless they are the same race. these words remain enshrined in law, even as many of the acts have been overturned. words matter. they represent who we are and what we value. actions matter to, so it's time to remove these words from virginia's books. then, we will pass comprehensive
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protections and employment, housing and public accommodations, for lgbtq people. these are important steps toward building a more equal, just an inclusive state. we need to make it easier for people to participate in their government. there is no more fundamental way to do that then to vote. but in recent years, virginia has steadily added more restrictions on voting. this infringes on our most basic civil right as americans. we need to make it easier to vote, not harder.,.,. the
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government did not have to pay a reason pointing to vote early, and then, we need to make election day a holiday. (applause) (applause) we can do it by ending the league jackson holiday that virginia holds a week from friday. it
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commemorates a lost cause and it is time to move on. and while were at, it we need to let localities decide what to do with the confederate monuments in their community. they know the right thing to do. we also need to take an honest look at our criminal justice system, to make sure we are treating people fairly and using taxpayer dollars wisely. for lots of historical, reasons
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our criminal justice system does not provide a second chance. if you make a mistake at a young age, and even if you pay your debt to society, your punishment too often follows you throughout your life. no, make no mistake. if you commit a crime, there will be consequences. that can change, and it won't, but, the punishment must fit the crime. not every offense deserves a life sentence. it is time to temper justice with diversity. -- mercy. and remember, this was a high heart this was a bipartisan issue. lots of
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republican led states have reformed their criminal justice systems. it is time for virginia to do it as well. this means decriminalizing marijuana possession. and clearing the records of people who have gotten in trouble for it. it means making permanent a temporary policy you passed last year, the one that says, no more suspended drivers licenses just because you owe court finds. if you can't drive,
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how can you get to work to earn the money to pay for those funds? this temporary policy is working, so let's make it permanent. criminal justice reform includes reforming parole. if offenders or older, are terminally ill, and i have paid her debt to society, and they are no longer a threat, what is the benefit in keeping them from being eligible for parole? our criminal justice reform package funds more public defenders, including, yes, including the first public defender office in prince william. it provides support to
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returning citizens and funding to speed up reviews of requests. this is about simple justice and fairness. when you pager that, we should welcome you back, encourage you to participate in civil society and restore you are right to vote. the data shows that, and it is just the right thing to do. lastly, let's turn to gun safety. i know that this is a deeply emotional issue but let's focus on facts. you all know the issue and so do the voters. because, this is not new. last summer after the terrible shooting in virginia beach, i called the previous general assembly into special
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session, to take immediate action. i proposed a common sense measures designed to keep firearms away from dangerous persons. but there was no action. the measures i proposed did not receive a hearing. virginians watched. they saw what happened and they were appalled. so, they changed the legislature and here we are. this issue generates great emotion, what the facts are the facts. and i want virginians to know the facts. gun violence takes the lives of more than 1000 virginians every year. people every day. at that rate,
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everyone on the floor of this chamber would be gone by march. these are mothers, fathers, sons,, daughters, friends, and yes even little children. virginians have had enough of the videos and the funerals, enough -- they made that clear at the ballot box so, we are back with a common sense measures to keep dangerous persons away from firearms. if you have demonstrated extreme risk of violence or there is a protective order against you, you should not have a firearm.
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this means universal background checks. if there is nothing in your record, you have nothing to worry about so let's be clear, this is all fully consistent with the second amendment. every one of these proposals has passed constitutional muster. other states have passed them into law. they were drafted by your own attorneys at legislative services and teams of lawyers have reviewed them. it's clear that a majority of virginians support these measures and so to a majority of you. many of you ran on common sense gun safety, on both sides of the aisle. i know the thoughts and
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prayers are important and well intended. after an act of violence. but virginians spoke in november and they expect votes in law to make virginia safer (interpreter). as this discussion begins, let's have an honest conversation based on facts and not fear. we will engage in civil dialog. i ask all virginians to refrain from promoting fear and intimidation. i want to reiterate, this common sense legislation does
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not violate the second amendment. no one is calling out the national guard. no one is cutting off your electricity or turning off the internet. no one is going door to door to confiscate guns. these laws are intended to keep virginians safe period. it is time to act.
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(applause) on monday, it will be two years since i stood on the steps of this capital and swore an oath to uphold the constitution of the united states and a constitution of virginia. i take this out seriously. every night when i go to bed, how well did i do today? how well the nicer virginia, and when i'm down, and yes, i am human to, i search for a new ways to carry out by responsibilities. believe me, i have found some over the past year.. a few things sometimes keep me up at night.. i worry that our country is too polarized and that we might not get past it. i worry that too many people
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believe there is not a place for them in our democracy. i worry that a child born a decade ago looks at our countries politics today and thinks that this is normal. i want that ten year old to know how wrong that is. i want her to know that we are bigger than this. we all have a lot to do to change americas politics and this country once again looks to virginia for leadership. it's easy to see why. in virginia, we protect the people's money, we balance our budget. washington has not done that in a generation. in virginia, we save money. we put it in the bank for a rainy day, in washington, they run of the national debt about 23 trillion dollars. one, day that bill will come do and it is going to
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cost us all. and in virginia, we treat each other with respect. we know that nasty tweets and name-calling are raw. we will punish our children if they acted like that. and we should all be sick of it. i think that we all want to live in a country where we would be proud if our young child can look to our country's leaders and say, i want to be like that person when i grow up. we don't have that now, but we can get it back, and we must.
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(applause) tonight, to everyone who took the oath of office today, i say congratulations. and i ask you to remember, we all represent everyone who lives in this great commonwealth. family, friend, and foe alike. whether we know them or whether we like them, even if you never met them or visit the place where they live, that's not easy. it calls us to reach out of ourselves to be larger, to be generous of heart. to be forgiving and to treat each other as we would like to be treated. i learned that lesson from my mother. when i was a kid she taught children who were learning english as their second language how to read. she worked in health care,
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nursing sick people back to health on virginia's eastern shore. she volunteered with a hospice, comforting people in their final hours. she taught me that no matter who we are or where we come from, we are all equal in the beginning and in the end. (applause) i've thought of that many times since i've had this job. that lesson comfort to me, especially as i take on a great responsibility like the one that you and i began together tonight. tonight, i presented an agenda that is different from every previous general assembly session. it's a lot bolder, and it's more forward looking than ever before. i am here as your governor
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because i'm a builder. and i hope you will choose to build two. let's build virginia's future together. (applause) i know it will not be easy. nothing that matters is. i also know this, hour hardest days are behind us. and our greatest days ahead. you know what, in america, we love a new beginning. and as i look around this room, i see 140 people that i'm eager to work with. some i've known for a long time, others i'm just getting to know. everyone in a new role. i know that you love virginia and i do too. i was born and raised here. i chose to raise our family here. and we intend to live the rest
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of our life here. we've got a lot to do for the people of virginia. and when we do it right, treating each other with respect and decency, virginia will once again show the country how to leave live. i can't imagine a more noble mission for anyone or anyone that i would rather take it on with. i'm grateful to the virginians to stand together and to encourage me every day. on behalf of virginia, thank you all, for your willingness to serve. and to your families for supporting what you do. let's make virginia proud. may god bless you, make law got left virginia, and may god bless the greatest country in the world, the united states of america. thank you all so much. (applause)
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>> over the next two weeks, on tuesday, we are focusing on the new hampshire presidential primary and the iowa caucuses. sunday night, longtime new hampshire union leader publisher and now editor at large joseph mcqueen it, talks about his states presidential primary history. and the current state of politics in new hampshire. >> new hampshire is always different. i think it appreciates being forest and people turn out. it's one of the highest turnout states at, least in primaries, in the country. and if it was so -- you know -- to white and not representative of t

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