Virginia Gov. Kaine’s “State of the Commonwealth” Address Tonight

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Office
of the Governor

Timothy M. Kaine                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Governor                                   January 13, 2010

EXCERPTS OF GOVERNOR KAINE’S STATE OF THE COMMONWEALTH ADDRESS TO THE JOINT ASSEMBLY

RICHMOND – Governor Timothy M. Kaine will deliver his final State of the Commonwealth Address to the Joint Assembly in Richmond tonight at 7 p.m. The address will be carried on local PBS stations, streaming video will be available on the House of Delegates’ website, and text of the entire address will be available on the Governor’s website. Excerpts of his speech are as follows:

“When I was inaugurated Governor in Williamsburg four years ago, I chose a simple motto for my Administration: ‘Virginia Leading the Way.’”

“As I leave office, I can say with confidence: Virginia has achieved that goal. No state in America has enjoyed the success we have seen in recent years. Some of the remarkable forward movement in Virginia has been obscured by the national recession that we saw starting in the Spring of 2007. But, Virginia is well positioned going forward because of our economic, educational, and political leadership.”

Achievements

“The Virginia economy today is one of the nation’s most vibrant. We are in the top ten states in median income and have one of the ten lowest unemployment rates in the country.

“In the past four years, we have recruited five Fortune 500 companies to move their headquarters from other states to Virginia—two of them this past year alone—as well as announced more than $13 billion in new investment during the longest recession since the 1930’s. These economic development opportunities have been achieved in all parts of the Commonwealth.”

“During my brief time as Governor, we have achieved the unparalleled honor of being recognized eight times as the best state for business in America by business organizations like Forbes.com and CNBC. With international economic assets like the Port of Virginia and Dulles Airport , a newly retooled workforce development system, and the nation’s largest percentage of technology workers, there is no reason why we cannot hold onto our position of economic dominance for many years to come.”

“And, we have managed to permanently protect more than 424,000 acres of open space throughout the Commonwealth. Never before has the Commonwealth moved so aggressively to protect the natural beauty of our state so that distant generations can enjoy the same resources that we cherish.”

Challenges

“The biggest challenge facing us is the decades-old gridlock in transportation investments. Virginia is a state with a very favorable tax burden and we should do all we can to keep it that way. But, no state or nation can maintain its economic edge with a declining infrastructure. Eventually, we need leadership in this collective body to find a path toward responsible advances in road investments.”

“A second challenge is the need to keep our higher education system in the position of national pre-eminence that it currently enjoys. We are well above the national average in the percentage of our citizens with a Baccalaureate degree, but, higher education attainment in Virginia has flattened out at about 40%. While still good by American standards, we need to realize that the leading nations in the world are educating nearly 60% of their population with higher education degrees today. We have a huge gap that we need to overcome to maintain our strength in this important area.”

Thanks

“First, I thank each member of the General Assembly for your willingness to sacrifice time, income, and privacy for the honor of serving in the oldest continuous legislative body in the Western hemisphere.”

“To Virginia ’s public employees who do the hard, unglamorous, everyday work of serving your fellow citizens; I offer my deepest respect. I am deeply aware that the things you do as a part of your daily work are nothing short of extraordinary—I want to recognize the Fairfax County rescue team currently on its way to Haiti to offer their support in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in that nation. The last years have been tough on you, but I see your optimism and concern everywhere I travel, and I want to tell you how proud I am of you.”

“To the citizens of Virginia : you have welcomed me into your homes and businesses, your schools, churches, and communities. You have inspired me with your resilience and creativity. I have no doubt why Virginia is in such a strong position today—you are the reason. I thank you for the honor of serving as the 70th Governor of the Commonwealth.”

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