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tv   Virginia Governor State of the Commonwealth Address  CSPAN  January 13, 2022 10:50pm-11:54pm EST

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[applause] >> good evening mr. speaker, madame president, lieutenant governor ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for inviting me to speak with you tonight. to my wife p.m. and my family to the justices of the supreme court members of the state corporation commission in my
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cabinet and staff, thank you for your service to our commonwealth. [applause] and to the justices congratulations on your retirement and thank you as well for your service. [applause] and to everyone else in this chamber and watching at home thank you as well and happy new year. this is my fourth and final address to you and to the people of virginia. this speech and update on the state of our commonwealth is a long-standing tradition and it has value behind what i say here tonight. this is a time when elected leaders from different branches of government different political parties in
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different parts of the state come together to talk about the commonwealth that we all share. no matter our differences are what we share in common, every year we come together. next monday governor elect johnson will speak to you in just the same way and by then he will be your governor. i wish him the best. hand i am confident he will be the commonwealth well. but this is a night when i talk about the state of our commonwealth and this time to talk about what we have done and what kind of commonwealth i am leaving in your hands.
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but every day is an opportunity to help someone to make their life better. we are people who care about each other. we want the neighbors to succeed just as much as we want that for ourselves. we know it's not enough for me to be doing okay but you need to be doing okay to. and policy choices are rooted in who we are, people who want the best for others. [applause]
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my adult life has been helping people especially children. serving in the army, working as a medical director of a pediatric hospice and caring for thousands of children, all of those rules have helped me to help people. i saw the senate and the lieutenant governor's office and now the governor's office as a means to help people at a different level especially those who need it the most. it's a chance to help people fewer resources. also a chance as the first governor in generations to come from a rural area to put a greater focus on helping rural virginia. before he ran for senate i evaluated in the emergency room. with cerebral palsy seizures
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and cystic fibrosis all of those are serious medical conditions and require a lot of care as i walked back to my office a patient on —- a father was crying seen can never afford the care his child need. that convinced me that healthcare is a right and not a privilege. [applause] no father should have to worry he cannot afford to take care of his child.
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i ran for office to help that man and others like him. i also remember as a doctor sitting with a family whose child had picked up a loaded gun in the home and shot himself. dad at age three. i have been to too many funerals for children who died because of a firearm. like a loaded gun or stray bullet on the playground. and for office to help ensure that more families don't have to endure that kind of pain. and virginians choose leaders who will make our commonwealth work better for them and their families no matter who they are or where they live. i can confidently say that we have done that. we are leaving the commonwealth better than it was when we came into office and we have built a state that
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does a better job of treating people right it is more welcoming and more open and fair and more equitable. [applause] we have built a state that helps people who need it whether they need healthcare or clean water or to keep their roof over their head during a pandemic we built a state that recognizes the wrongs of the past and works to reckon with and rectify. we have built a state where everyone has greater access to opportunity the opportunity what you need to build the life you want to live where you want to live it.
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everything we have built and accomplished over the four years has been about helping people we are leaving in your hands a strong and healthy commonwealth that treats everyone right and takes care of people when they need it and provides opportunity for everyone we could not have a safe and stable virginia without the work of my cabinet the state agency and the thousands of state employees. [applause] they truly provide a service in public service from law enforcement to road crews and social work. i hope you will join me in a round of applause for the state workforce. [applause]
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leaving you with the strongest state budget virginia has ever seen. [applause] [cheers and applause] thanks to our strong economy we're adding unique moment when we have the funding to catch up on long-delayed investments while also putting money back into the pockets of the hardest working virginians. just today we announce that general fund revenues were up 20 percent in december making it five straight months of double-digit revenue growth. [applause]
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and we need to be clear this is because we have consistently taking a prudent and cautious approach and has strengthen the balance sheet to keep our finances stable and those long-term investments and to help people get through the pandemic to put money aside as a buffer and in fact i have sent you a budget that brings our reserves to more than three.$8 billion. that is 16.8 percent more than double the 8 percent i said is a goal four years ago and more than any previous governor of either party. [applause] . . . . i want to the
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senator and delegate tour in the committees for their leadership over the course of some very complicated budget practices. [applause] we've also had record economic success. i've traveled around the world meeting with companies and telling them virginia is the best place to be during our four years we've brought in more than
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$81 billion in economic investments, more than four times any previous administration and creating more than 103,000 jobs. [applause] for most people, the most important thing they need is a job where they can support themselves and their families. from day one i wanted virginia to be the best state for business because i knew it would mean we were doing the right thing to attract jobs and help virginians. that's why i am so proud that we've been cnbc is best state for business back-to-back years, something no other state has
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done. [applause] we are also ranked number one for business climate by business facilities magazine. we have proven that when you treat people right it's good for everyone and also good for business. businesses are excited to be in virginia and to come to virginia. being named best state for business is a testament to our workforce, our education system, our commitment to diversity and strong business climate. from amazon making virginia home to a second headquarters in 2018 to the three billion-dollar investment to build semi conductors to blue stars and credible commitment to make billions of medical gloves is
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the state where companies want to invest put down roots and growth. we've also taken steps to be a better state for the workers. i've listened to virginians havetold me they just couldn't support themselves on $7.25 an hour. they were always one paycheck away from losing the roofs over their head so that's why we are raising the minimum wage in the commonwealth of virginia increase of $11 an hour. [applause] we've helped working families in a variety of ways and made it easier to adopt through
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surrogates and through our own state workforce we've put in one of the most progressive family leave programs in the country. we've also made historic investments in affordable housing and virginia leads the nation for rent relief during covid helping people keep a roof over their heads. i want to thank the secretary and everyone on the team a state that's both good for business and good for workers doesn't happen by accident. it's built with a lot of hard work and these folks deserve the credit with everything virginia has going for us there is no reason we can't be the best state for business.
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the best in the country's success is coming because we've been the deliberate in the education system second to none. these days if you want to get a good job and get ahead, you need additional skills training or education beyond a high school diploma. i have sent you a budget that continues the priorities we pursued all along and we put half a million dollars into our historically black colleges and universities during my term. [applause]
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that's an increase of 87% and we are making higher education and skills training more affordable and more accessible to all. that includes a program i've wanted to implement since i ran for governor, as i can paint people told me about dropping out of community college because they couldn't afford it so we came up with a program making community college tuition free for low and moderate income students if they are getting training in high need areas and i appreciate the senator and ate delegate for their work to pass this important initiative. thank you all very much. [applause] our higher education system is dependent on our k-12 system.
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every child deserves the same opportunity to get the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in life. that's why for the past four years we have increased our investments in k-12 education. we put historic amounts of support into at-risk students. we've raised teachers salaries more than 10%, the largest increase in 15 years. [applause] the budget i've sent dedicates new funding to help localities build or modernize their schools and we've invested in early child childhood education. as a pediatrician i know brain development starts early. those first years are vital and a robust early childhood education system means children with fewer advantages can get the same good start in life.
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i'm so grateful to my wife who made early childhood education her mission and everyone who's worked on the early childhood team and the administration. thank you so much. [applause] our teachers, our school staff, our administrators are dedicated to one thing and that is educating your children. they are highly trained and skilled and they do a phenomenal job. they all deserve our thanks and gratitude especially after the stresses and challenges of the past 22 months. i want to thank the secretary of education and our incredible
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education team. [applause] i also want to think the first secretary of labor. [applause] education and workforce go hand-in-hand and of these teams have done tremendous work over the past four years. education doesn't just happen in a classroom and it is in the young that can learn new things. if we are not learning, we are stagnant and if we cling onto what we think we know without keeping our mind open to new information we cannot move forward. my administration has needed a a priority to ensure that in
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virginia we understand our past so we can learn from our mistakes. for too long we've been comfortable telling a story about virginia's history that left out a lot of people and a lot of uncomfortable fact is but we cannot pick and choose history based on how it makes us feel. [applause] we need to understand the full and true story and put a black child's right to have her history included in our textbooks. [applause]
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we need to put her interests in the textbooks before our own desire to feel comfortable. that is the only way we can understand how yesterday affect us today and make changes for tomorrow. we are a place where the first enslaved african people landed into the place where representative government was born. we've worked hand-in-hand with many of you to make virginia a place that reckons with its past. we've given greater support to institutions dedicated to telling that full and painful story. we focused our historical resources on telling stories
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that have been marginalized. for example, when a dear friend of mine found someone on his property used on the riverbank to control erosion or actually headstones, he called for help and we discovered they had been taken from prehistoric cemetery from washington with no respect to the people they represented. we were able to get many of those back to the graves that belong to. we've taken steps in every agency of this commonwealth to better support and celebrate the diversity of our state and with those they call virginia home with thousands of years before europeans arrived. with much help i put together
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the most diverse talented and hard-working cabinet in the history of virginia. [applause] we've created the state-level office of diversity, equity and inclusion led by the country's first cabinet level chief diversity officer and i think the doctor and her team for all their work. [applause] i know that talking about history, our real true history can make some people uncomfortable. mostly those people who look like me. and i've not always understood the ways that the uglier parts of our past affect things and
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people today, but i've kept my mind open. i've listened and i've learned. i used to tell students the eyes can to see what the brain doesn't know. i know virginians want to understand each other. as someone who works with children, i know that hatred, bigotry and discrimination are not things that we are born with. they are things that we unfortunately learn and that means that inclusion is also something that we can learn. we all work in good faith to try to understand the will of the we live in together and it's hard when we don't hear the same stories and we don't understand the same facts. it can feel like we are further apart than ever but there virginia that i see is full of
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people that have more in common than their differences. [applause] the better we understand the past of the more we broaden the common ground. as governor and as legislators, our job is to be good stewards of this commonwealth and to prepare for what will come in the next ten, 20 or even 50 years when it comes to the environment, we know the next 50 years, the next five years will be a time of great change. we are already seeing it christmas day, right here in richmond with 70 degrees and last week we got more than a half a foot of snow and then the
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ashes were covered by the blizzard. western kentucky towns were devastated by rare december tornadoes. with devastating consequences, we must do our part to stem the tide and make sure that the world we live for our children and that we leave for our children and grandchildren is safe. i ran for office to help save and protect our waters and air for our grandchildren to enjoy. in the past four years we've invested strongly in clean energy. i was proud to sign the virginia canadian economy act and i thank senator mcclellan and the delegate sullivan for
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spearheading the work to get that legislation passed. thank you so much. [applause] and clean energy is a job generator. businesses that are looking to locate in virginia like our renewable energy initiatives and virginia is also at the vanguard of the new offshore wind energy industry in the united states. we must -- [applause] we must embrace clean energy because the cost of not doing so will be devastating if you want more storms and more disaster and more destroyed property, lost jobs and devastated communities, then do nothing.
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but a stable future requires us to act and that's why i'm leaving a plan for a cleaner energy future. and it's also why we've spent four years making our waters and air cleaner and safer for children and our children's children including investing $1 billion in cleaning up the chesapeake bay. [applause] i'm confident we are leaving our environment cleaner and better than when we found it and we've put in place the right policies to make virginia a leader and the progress that comes with it. i want to thank the secretary and her team for the work these past four years to make virginia's environment a better
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place leaving a better future for our children also means leaving a system that protects public safety and ensures that our justice system is as fair as possible. our law enforcement new and incredibly difficult and often dangerous job to not just reward our officers, deputies but to support the tough jobs they do and also make pay scales more fair. we also work closely to make sure our criminal justice system reflects the virginia that we are today. our modern-day punishments and practices have their roots in a lower discriminatory and unfair path. [applause]
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some of you got to laugh to this one. that's why we've made to marijuanause legal in the commof virginia and i want to think senator lucas, evan and to the there delegate for the policy that is complicated but very important. the first southern state to do so because it was applied unfairly and we couldn't rely on the system to get it right thanks go to the senators,
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delegate and many others that have worked on this for years. i want you all to just look at the martinsville seven. seven black men who were convicted of rape and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. in virginia it was almost entirely black men who were sentenced to death for rape convictions and it was clear that these seven men were executed because they were black. i was glad to acknowledge that wrong in some measure by granting them a posthumous pardon earlier this year. in fact, our administration has restored the civil rights and voting rights for nearly 126,000 people and issued more than 1,100 pardons, more than all
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past governors combined. [applause] we cannot expect people to fully reenter the society as long as we hold a conviction over the heads and refused to treat them like full members of society. if you commit a crime, you should expect punishment, but punishment should fit the crime. this year, virginians could have a chance to vote to make the restoration of rights automatic if the work of the senators and others are successful. there must be a date at which we say enough is enough. you've paid your debt and it is time to move forward. that is who we are in virginia. we are a state that believes in
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justice, not just punishment, and we are a state that believes in grace and mercy. through the recidivism rates in the country and to take this opportunity. i want to thank the secretary and his team for all their work to make virginia a state that is safer and more just for everyone. thank you, secretary. [applause] and i want to thank the secretary of the commonwealth who has now helped to governors restore the rights of thousands of virginians and everyone on her team. thank you so much. [applause]
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they have done an incredible job. i mentioned that we restored to voting rights for thousands of virginians. voting is fundamental to the democracy. many americans have fallen and some have paid the price to protect the freedoms we have under the democratic system including the right to vote. that's why voting should be as easy as possible for as many voters as possible. yet for too many people, barriers still exist. i remember talking to a trucker that told me his schedule was so unpredictable he often didn't get to vote because he was on the road on election day. that's why we've worked together to make virginia our leader in voting access. now you can vote early for 45 days before the election without having to explain your schedule
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to an official. election day is a state holiday because we want people to have the free time to vote or volunteer at the polls and voter registration is automatic through the dmv. virginia has gone from being one of the toughest most restrictive voting requirements to one of the best and secure in the country. [applause] i want to thank the senator, senator lucas, the delegate and many others because of these changes, we have seen record of voter turnout in the past two
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elections. in fact the 2021 election in which all of you in the house were elected and assault you 20% increase in voter participation over four years ago. contrast that with other states that have chosen to make voting harder and more restrictive with the result that fewer people vote. this shows us that the current rules work. the elections are fair and transparent and it's important for voters to hear that message especially for those of you elected to office under these rules.
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voters deserve better and our elected officials need to do better and not to perpetuate anyone's big why. virginia's elections are always well-run. they are free and fair and transparent. this is a hallmark of our democracy, and i am proud of all virginians whose efforts to help ensure that our elections go smoothly. i want to thank everyone in the department along with the secretary and her teams. thank you all so much. [applause] not something to be held back as a privilege reserved for a few, access to healthcare is also a
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right, not a privilege to be reserved for those who can afford it. like the father that i mentioned earlier faced with not being able to afford care for his sick child, that should never happen in virginia. that's why i was proud of it in the first year of our term together, we agreed to expand medicare access to thousands of virginians. [applause] i know that we couldn't foresee the pandemic but i am glad that when a global health crisis arises, more than a 600,000 virginians have access to care that they did not have in 2018. thanks to the work and cooperative spirit of the southwest virginia delegation
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across party lines because it was the right thing to do. at that again is who we are. we don't just want health care for ourselves, we want it for our neighbors and never before has our health been so dependent on others as in the past 22 months of the pandemic. in the virus where my actions affect you and your actions affect me we need virginia to be a state where people take care of their neighbors. as the nation's only governor who is also a doctor, i am proud of how virginia has handled this pandemic. [applause]
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to keep virginians as safe and healthy as possible, we have seen fewer cases and fewer deaths than many of our neighbors. nearly 90% of our adult population has had at least one shot. we are the ninth state in the nation for having our residents fully vaccinated and for vaccination rates for teenagers. [applause] we are doing better at vaccinations than many other large states and all of our southern neighbors. that said, none of that matters to the people that have lost a loved one to this terrible
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virus. nearly 16,000 virginians have died of covid in the past 22 months. and all of them were dear to some, my sympathy goes to the families and loved ones for their loss. i would like to take a moment of silence in their memory. i hope they will continue doing what they know works, follow the science. get vaccinated. wear a mask, take care of other people, not just ourselves. at that is who i know virginians to be and i want to thank the secretary of health and human resources. i also want to take a moment to thank the thousands of doctors,
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nurses, teachers, guardsmen and women into public safety officers that have worked tirelessly to keep us safe. [applause] in the balcony this evening i want to introduce a few folks. we have major timothy who leads the national guard, the charles lund professor for civil and environmental engineer whose groundbreaking research has helped guide not only the nation but the world during this pandemic.
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[applause] these individuals work day in and day out facing an unknown virus trying to get the best advice they could to be worried public. if you look at the covid data you can see that they have lost fewer virginians than many other states. this team has saved thousands of lives and on behalf of a grateful virginia, i say thank you again so much. we owe our thanks to public
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health workers. they are truly public servants dedicated to helping their neighbors stay safe and healthy. they deserve our gratitude. it hasn't been easy, and of their work is not done. if you want to thank them, the public health workers are local health department, doctors, nurses and hospitals, long-term care facility staff, you know what to do. get vaccinated or boosted, wear a mask, protect the people around you, that is how to thank a healthcare worker over the past four years we've done a lot to make virginia a better place to live and work. we've also made it into easier place to live and work by
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investing in the infrastructure that connects us all. if you commute or travel, you want better roads and rail systems. if you work from home or are in school, you need reliable internet access. we've laid the groundwork to transform that infrastructure. in just four years, we've moved broadband investment from $4 million a year to $2 billion a year. we are on track to have universal broadband on its way to every community by 2024. [applause] it is good to see everybody
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stretching their legs this evening. [applause] but by 2024 that is far faster than expected and faster than most other states. this is one of the most important investments we could have made especially in rural communities. broadband is to today's economy what electricity was generations ago. it's quite simply a necessary service for students to connect to education, business is to connect to the world and citizens to connect to work. i want to thank the senator for her role leading the broadband. [applause] the council has played an important part in this progress. thank you so much. we've also made generational investments in roads and rail,
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$3.8 billion to expand the hampton roads bridge tunnel, $2.2 billion to fix ied one and $3.7 billion to transform rail across the commonwealth. these projects and others will help virginians in every part of the state get to where they want to go faster and safer. i want all of you with me to thank the secretary of transportation and her team. [applause] investments like broadband are especially important for rural
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virginia. as you well know, i was born and raised on the eastern shore and one of my goals was to put more focus on the needs of rural virginia. too often, rural communities feel left behind. you often hear people say just like me we grew up in rural virginia in other parts of the state you often hear why don't they just move but that isn't the answer. instead of encouraging people to leave the rural areas, we've worked to bring more opportunities to them. i've made rural virginia a priority as my friend senator bill stanley reminded me recently. i promised him i wouldn't forget
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the south side and he will tell you i lived up to my word. [applause] we have supported the rural economic development such as the biggest new jobs announcement in southwest virginia in a decade. 2,500 new jobs. my friend congressman griffith called it the largest economic development announcement made in southwest during his time in congress. [applause] it's a place for outdoor businesses and outdoor
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travelers. [applause] we created the rebuild program investing $400 million in grants to help our small businesses and communities across the commonwealth stay afloat during the pandemic and we've supported agriculture, our largest industry. we funded 55 agriculture and forestry industry development projects more the in the past two administrations combined and we've supported and conserved working lands and forests. i want to thank the signatory of agriculture and forestry. everyone on her team and everyone who works to support and prioritize rural virginia. thank you. [applause]
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every community from the eastern shore to lee county and everywhere between deserves attention and it's been important to me that rural virginia not to be left behind. i also want to thank the secretary of veterans affairs who is actively serving with the national guard in the middle east right now and acting secretary kathleen. they and their teams have done amazing work to support veterans and make sure that we are well connected with of the military operations that call virginia home. one in 12. [applause] one and 12 virginians is a military veteran. i know we have a lot in the audience, and in fact i am one
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of them as well. in the past four years, we have promoted the b theory program to hire more veterans and taken a number of steps to help to ease the transition to civilian life. we are one of the best estates for veterans and i hope we continue to take care of veterans as they deserve. i also want to thank the national guard led by major general timothy wilson who has done so much to serve this commonwealth. we call on them to help in emergencies from last january's attempted insurrection in washington to national natural disasters to the covid response. they helped with testing in 2020 and vaccinations in 2021 and more national guard members are deployed right now tonight now more than any other time since world war ii. again major general williams thank you so much to the national guard. [applause]
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four years ago, i stood here in this room on this dais in front of many of you and i told you where i wanted to take virginia. and i asked you to work with me to get us there. it's been a more tumultuous for years than i think any of us expected. but the challenges have also been opportunities. more people have healthcare access. more people have jobs. more people have access to an affordable education. more people have access to broadband, and soon everyone will have.
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the system is prepared for updates. the energy sources are becoming cleaner and safer. our teachers, law enforcement officers and public servants are paid better. the chesapeake bay and its estuaries are healthier. we are telling a full story of our shared history and inviting more places to the table. we are protecting the rights of more people and making virginia a more open and welcoming place to live. tonight i can say that together we have accomplished more than we could have dreamed of that night in 2018 at every turn we have looked for ways to help people. we are leaving you with a virginia that treats people right, helps neighbors when they needed, rectifies past wrongs and helps everyone to have the opportunity to thrive.
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that's who we are as a people, and we are all god's people, created equally. [applause] we take care of each other, so tonight let's ask ourselves are we going to keep up this progress or will we retreat into become people who are more worried about ourselves van each other? i hope that we will not. i hope the spirit of helping other people continues to prevail. i hope we will continue to be people who want to serve the world rather than countries.
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people who so kindness and hope rather than anger and fear. we are here for a short period of time and every day is a god-given opportunity to help someone, to make their life better. [applause] i am truly grateful to all of you in the general assembly for the work you've done with me and my team and for your constituents. i've worked with some of you for a number of years as a colleague in the senate and then as lieutenant governor and now as
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governor. i know that despite our differences, you all care deeply about this commonwealth and the people that we all serve and again i want to thank my cabinet and my staff, members of my cabinet please stand. [applause] they have devoted themselves to doing good for the people of virginia and while you don't always see their work or hear their names, everything that we have done well has been their work and again on a very grateful commonwealth of virginia to my cabinet, i truly say thank you to all of you. [applause] over these past four years, i
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have been welcomed into communities in every corner of this great commonwealth. i have met thousands of my fellow virginians and what i have been most struck by is this. virginians are good people. you want to help others. you have a deep love of place and of your community. you want to see your neighbors do well. did you put your trust in me to lead our great commonwealth does the 73rd governor and i promise to make the best decisions i could for you. every single day of the past four years, my team and i have tried to live up to that trust and every day i have felt so proud and grateful for you virginia. i have seen your strength and resilience, your kindness and
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your generosity. it is you more than anything else that makes our commonwealth the best state and country in the world. don't you agree? [applause] speaking on behalf of pam and me it has truly been the highlight of our lives to serve virginia as a past governor rightly said. there is truly no higher honor than to serve as governor of the commonwealth of virginia from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much and may god bless virginia and the united states of america. thank you all so much. [applause]
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[applause] [applause]
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next a hearing on the challenges facing the small business administration in the coming year. the topics included a pandemic relief programs for small businesses and staffing and resource needs.


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