Governor Youngkin was well received by members of the Joint Assembly, receiving a standing ovation at the onset of his speech.
Younkin opened by saying, “Standing here before you, and looking around this room, I’m struck by the history that’s been made in this place, the people’s house.”
“I’m also struck by the fact that the work you do here has great consequence for the people of Virginia. And so it is as we gather here today.”
Addressing the Assembly and the public Youngkin laid out his intentions to unite government parties.
He began by saying,
“After years of fractured politics, a deadly pandemic, lives and livelihoods lost, soaring mental health and incidents that have woken us all up to the challenges that this pandemic has caused, including drug overdoses, rising crime rates, ever-increasing costs for housing, food and fuel, Virginians have sent us here to turn the page.”
Youngkin spoke of those Virginians saying, “They came out in record numbers to make their voice heard. They chose a new vision for the future.”
He added, “Today, I want to speak to that vision and begin our partnership to address the priorities of the people.”
It was only fitting that Youngkin, having been inaugurated on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, would draw from King’s words to help foster his mission to unite government starting with the members of the Joint Assembly.
Younkin said, “And as I shared on Saturday, we can take inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King’s life which we celebrate today and his words that:
“we may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”Martin Luther King Jr.
Youngkin said “The work we have to do together, we must start today.”
“And there isn’t a better example of people coming together on behalf of Virginia than the brave crews, the law enforcement heroes, and the first responders who worked during yesterday’s storm in the freezing cold, ice and snow to keep our streets safe, the lights on and our hospitals open.”
Youngkin acknowledged his wife describing her sacrifices and support to help him on his journey to becoming elected Governor of Virginia.
He spoke of the importance of family and declared that government too often forgets that they work for the American people and American families.
Youngkin outlined many of the problems facing Virginia,
“The impact of high costs and high taxes, and an increased regulatory burden are clearly being felt in the real economy and the real lives of Virginians.”
“The good news is that we have the ability to course-correct before this poor performance becomes permanent.”
“With current and projected tax driven surpluses we can lower the taxes on Virginia families.”
“And make crucial investments in those critical pillars to the great Virginia promise of a lower cost-of-living, excellent schools, safe communities, a rip-roaring economy that lifts up all Virginians, and a state government that works for Virginians.”
Governor Youngkin asked the members to help,
“To do that, I’m asking each of us in this body Republican and Democrat alike to come together. To rise above the Richmond of divisive, special interest politics, the small and the parochial to usher in a sweeping vision of change and to put this commonwealth on a pathway to prosperity.”
Youngkin outlined the accomplishments he’s already made by “signing 11 executive actions, and swearing in a full cabinet, outstanding individuals, who are qualified and share Virginia’s values.”
He continued to give members of the assembly a political pep talk to stir excitement for change.
Youngkin said rebuilding Virginia will require work in many areas. Youngkin wants to start with schools by increasing school standards which have been lowered in the past
The new governor is calling for $150 million to help us meet his goal of starting 20 new charter schools.
“Whether they’re called charter schools, lab schools, or schools of innovation – it doesn’t really matter. I don’t care what we call it I just care that we do it.”
Youngkin said, “We’re going to build partnerships between the commonwealth and our great universities to create lab schools of excellence.
It could be a lab school in Southwest Virginia in partnership with UVA Wise.
It could be an entrepreneurship or entertainment industry-focused school partnering with one of our amazing historically black colleges and universities.
Or a partnership with Old Dominion University for opportunities in offshore wind development or maritime projects.”
The new governor said, “Ive heard consistent bipartisan agreement from all of you that the budget you’ll pass, and that I’ll sign will reflect a record investment in education. And that investment will include a significant boost in teacher pay.”
Youngkin had this to say to parents, “You have a fundamental right, enshrined in law by this General Assembly, to make decisions with regard to your child’s upbringing, education and care. And we will protect and reassert that right.”
“Hear me clearly when parents are empowered and engaged, a child’s life is enhanced.”
The governor said, “Schools exist for the educational benefit of children, and for that reason they must remain open. I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated for Covid-19, and get the booster. As we battle covid, its parents that should decide the health measures taken for their children. That is why I signed an executive order that allows parents to opt out of mask mandates in schools. This is a matter of individual liberty.”
Youngkin believes everyone should have a right to choose their own medical path including healthcare workers.
Youngkin said this is why, “I will continue to oppose President Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate for health workers as we continue to fight a crisis of staffing in Virginia’s healthcare system.”
“Our fight against COVID-19 will move forward based on this simple principle we will protect lives and livelihoods.”
“That means no more mandates and no more shut downs. As I said on Saturday it means Virginia is open for business.”
Youngkin is not opposed to vaccines, in fact he encourages it. However his approach to getting Virginians vaccinated is not one of pressure but of education and encouragement.
“Speaking to you as your Governor, I’ll never tell you what you must do. But speaking to you as a friend and a neighbor I strongly encourage you to get the vaccine.”
Youngkin said vaccination help reduce hospitalizations and gets people back to work, growing our economy. He promises to repeal needless regulations that hinder business growth in Virginia.
“We’re going to repeal needless regulations. We’re going to invest in job training. We’re going to foster innovation. And we’re going to win the competition for jobs and corporate re-locations.”
Our new governor made a bold promise to bring internet access to rural areas of Virginia, a priority.
Youngkin said, “Every governor for the last decade has stood in this chamber and told you that rural broadband was a priority. This time we’re going to get it done.”
“We’re not only bringing jobs, we’re bringing high-speed broadband.”
Youngkin said his administration will focus on completing highways and ensuring our ports are open to commerce and will avoid regulatory red tape.
“So the message is clear, if your cargo container ship is stuck off the coast of another state come to Virginia.”
Youngkin offered the Assembly the option to return bills that were previously vetoed by Governor Northam.
“Over the last three years, you sent the governor eight versions of an association health plan bill to make it easier for workers to get health care. It was vetoed eight times. Pass that bill again and I will sign it.”
The governor plans to focus on tax cuts that will benefit Virginian households, by suspending the recent gas tax increase for a year and fully eliminating the grocery tax immediately.
“There’s bipartisan support for eliminating the grocery tax. Together, we will give Virginians real relief.”
Youngkin wants to give residents a real break on their personal income tax by doubling the standard deduction and providing the largest tax rebate in Virginia history, which he said will, “benefit the people who need it the most and represent the largest tax relief ever given to the people of Virginia $1,500 this year for the typical Virginia family.”
Youngkin particularly wants to help Veterans, “But beyond the economic implications of this package, I believe we have a special obligation to a group of individuals that have served our country with distinction our military veterans.”
“That’s why I’m asking this General Assembly to act on something long talked about, let’s eliminate the tax on the first $40,000 in military retirement pay together. Anyone who wears the uniform risks their life each day on the job. And this includes police officers, firefighters, EMTs, every first responder that keeps us safe.”
Youngkin said, “The budget submitted to this General Assembly includes pay raises for troopers, sheriffs’ deputies and corrections officers.”
But he is calling for more funding for police, training and equipment.
Youngkin spoke of the deterioration of our law enforcement agencies over the last few years. In an attempt to address this he said, “On Saturday, I fired the entire parole board. I asked Attorney General Miyares to begin an investigation into what happened.”
“The violations of law and the Constitution, the unconscionable refusal to notify families, of victims about pending decisions to release murderers, were simply unacceptable.”
“We will not accept selective violations of our constitutional rights. We will protect all of them. We don’t get to pick and choose the parts of the Constitution we want to preserve and protect.”
Governor Youngkin spoke of his intentions to to bring business efficiency to government bureaucracy. He talked of his promises to build roads, bridges, rail lines and utility lines to help promote commerce and be prepared for future extreme weather events.
He spoke of environmental cleaning and promoting clean up efforts of our parks and waterways including ending “the dumping of raw sewage in the James River once and for all.”
Youngkin ended by saying, “My friends in this esteemed legislature, I’m inspired to be with you this afternoon. And to be working with you to build a future of limitless opportunity and strengthen the spirit of Virginia.”
“Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the Commonwealth of Virginia.”