RICHMOND, VA, 13 JANUARY 2016: Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) and Senator Frank Ruff (R-Mecklenburg) 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 Delegate Rob Bell from Albemarle County.”
“And I’m Senator Frank Ruff from Mecklenburg County.
“In his address tonight, Governor McAuliffe detailed his agenda for this year’s legislative session.
“He established his priorities for the Commonwealth’s two-year spending plan when he submitted his budget to the General Assembly last month.
“Between now and March 12th, the Delegates and Senators you elected to represent you will consider the Governor’s proposals and more than 2,000 bills and resolutions submitted by legislators.
“As a member of one of the two legislative committees that will consider the Governor’s proposed budget, I know we will find common ground with him on efforts to increase funding for our public schools, for mental health care, for public safety, and for our veterans.
“We are committed to ensuring students who attend our public schools receive a quality education.
“And, we will strive to provide the funds necessary to attract and retain the best teachers.
“To better prepare our workforce for the demands of a rapidly changing economy, the budget we approve will include initiatives to encourage more Virginians to complete educational programs that lead to certification in high-demand fields.
“By investing in workforce training targeted to growing industries, we can make Virginia even more attractive to employers.
“One area where we will not be in agreement with Governor McAuliffe is Obamacare.
“While the Governor’s budget again includes the federal program’s Medicaid expansion scheme, we believe this initiative threatens critically important funding priorities like education.
“Even without the optional federal expansion, mandated spending on Medicaid will take an even higher share of state spending in the new budget.
“Expanding the program further would not be prudent, and would only increase the funding pressures on other state core services.
“Although the Governor’s initiative to join this optional feature of Obamacare will not be part of the new budget, there will not be a legislative impasse or standoff as there was two years ago.
“By voting for a Republican-majority General Assembly, Virginians ensured that the lengthy budget standoff of 2014 would not be repeated.
“We take the responsibility of completing our work on schedule very seriously, and the General Assembly will be adjourning on or before March 12th.”
“Last year, the General Assembly completed its work ahead of schedule.
“We passed a budget that Governor McAuliffe signed without amendment.
“We continued our work to keep Virginia a good place to open or grow a business.
“And, we further strengthened our ethics and transparency laws for Virginia’s elected officials.
“We understand that there will often be principled disagreements over policies and priorities and we’re always open to discussing what’s best for Virginia.
“However, we’ve been disappointed by recent unilateral actions by the current administration.
“Our system of government is founded on the Constitutional principles of a separation of powers.
“As has become all too common in Washington, here in Richmond we have seen Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Herring use executive actions and appointments to circumvent these Constitutional limitations and undermine the balance envisioned by our founders.
“Only 10 weeks ago, every Virginia legislator stood for election.
“And despite unprecedented efforts by outside interest groups, Virginians returned a Republican majority to the House and Senate.
“We intend to represent our constituents who just voted us into office.
“We will use our majority in the House and Senate to fight for fiscal responsibility and against the Governor’s unsustainable Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
“We will oppose job-killing proposals, whether they come from the Governor or federal overreach out of Washington.
“We will stand up for the Constitutional rights of Virginians, including their Second Amendment Rights.
“And, we will carefully review any appointment that was made by the Governor to ensure that it meets the Constitution’s requirements.
“During this session, we will be adhering to the Constitution of Virginia and will be working to ensure that the will of the voters is respected.
“Your vote matters, and your voices will be heard through us – the people you’ve chosen to represent you here at the Capitol.
“On behalf of our Republican colleagues in the House and the Senate, Senator Ruff and I wish you a happy, prosperous, and safe new year.
“We thank you for watching this evening and goodnight.”