Delegate Margaret B. Ransone (R-Westmoreland) and Senator Jeffrey L. McWaters (R-Virginia Beach) tonight delivered the Republican perspective on the State of Commonwealth. The text of their remarks, which were broadcast shortly after Governor McAuliffe’s, are as follows:
“Good evening and thank you for joining us following the annual State of the Commonwealth Address. I’m Senator Jeff McWaters from Virginia Beach.”
“And, I’m Delegate Margaret Ransone from Westmoreland County.
“Tonight, Governor McAuliffe unveiled his agenda for the next seven-and-a-half weeks. Senator McWaters and I will now give you the legislative perspective on this year’s session, detailing what the General Assembly will be accomplishing between now and the end of February.
“General Assembly Republicans have a growth agenda that will prepare Virginia now for long-term success. We will be promoting legislation to:
· Improve our public schools by supporting our teachers and better measuring student success;
· Make Virginia’s colleges and universities more affordable by placing limits on unreasonable student fees;
· Ensure Virginia’s college campuses are safe places for our students;
· Jumpstart the creation of new long-term care centers for Virginia’s large – and growing – population of veterans; and
· Further strengthen the new ethics and transparency reforms we approved last session.
“With each of these legislative initiatives, our overarching goal is to improve the lives of Virginians and the quality of life in our great Commonwealth.
“Last year’s session, Governor McAuliffe’s first, was unnecessarily characterized by partisanship and stalemate. The tone in Richmond became indistinguishable from the tone in Washington.
“Many of those divisive issues remained in the agenda Governor McAuliffe detailed tonight. He is even promoting the same issue – the expansion of Obamacare – that led to last year’s four-month budget stalemate.
“In contrast, we have deliberately crafted our agenda to promote issues on which we believe there will be broad agreement.
“Improving our local public schools by supporting teachers, trusting local school leaders to innovate, and better measuring student achievement shouldn’t be contentious.
“Making a college education more affordable for students and families isn’t partisan.
“Ensuring the safety of students on our campuses is important to all of us, and it’s especially important to parents.
“Providing better access to long-term care for our veterans is something we should all support.
“And, requiring the strongest ethical standards of those entrusted to lead the Commonwealth has become a top priority for every Virginian.
“These are the issues every-day Virginians are worried about – good jobs, strong schools, student debt, trust in government. And this is what Republicans will be focused on this year.
“We will also be making amendments to Virginia’s two-year budget this session. Senator McWaters will now review some of the issues related to Virginia’s fiscal stewardship and economic vitality.
“As elected leaders, we must work together every day of this session to move Virginia forward in the areas of job creation and the economy, clean energy, global shipping, entrepreneurism, education, access to affordable healthcare, and defense of democracy.
“This Session will be very different than the last one. The Senate’s new Republican majority is committed to working with the House of Delegates. Together, we will deliver a balanced budget to the Governor on time and before our scheduled adjournment on February 28.
“Let me also assure you the budget approved by the General Assembly will not increase your taxes. But, it will invest in education and transportation infrastructure, while keeping our promise of a strong healthcare safety net.
“Our approach to ensuring the integrity of Virginia’s budget will address long-term structural balance, and not use one-time fixes or gimmicks. Conservative fiscal management is responsible fiscal management.
“General Assembly Republicans are committed to promoting prosperity and encouraging economic development in every region of Virginia.
“Governor McAuliffe has proposed increasing the tax burden on Virginia’s struggling coal industry. His plan would only exacerbate an already dire situation for the people of Southwest Virginia.
“Today, coal and natural gas are some of Virginia’s most abundant resources. Our leaders should promote these resources, not penalize the people who depend on them for their livelihoods or the consumers who rely on them for affordable electricity.
“The contention over the budget that made last session so challenging is behind us. Although Governor McAuliffe continues to advance the same proposals that led to last year’s impasse, we must work together and solve problems, seizing opportunities to make Virginia the model competitor in the global marketplace.
“Over the next several weeks, the most contentious issues promoted by Governor McAuliffe will receive the lion’s share of media attention. But, even the most contentious issues will not dissuade us from making the 2015 General Assembly productive and successful.
“Virginians deserve a government whose leaders work together to ensure Virginia is the best place in the world to get an education, begin a career, raise a family, and make a difference.
“That is our commitment to you tonight.
“On behalf of Delegate Ransone and myself, thank you for watching. God bless American and God bless the Commonwealth of Virginia.”