Governor McAuliffe reflects on his term in office

Governor McAuliffe reflects on his term in office

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia will inaugurate Governor-elect Ralph Northam in a little over five weeks, but outgoing Governor Terry McAuliffe says he's still hard at work, proposing a budget and legislation before he leaves office.

He sat down for a one-on-one interview with NBC12 to reflect on his term in office.

When asked whether he plans to run for president, he responded, "Today, no. I get asked this a lot."

But it's not a firm no.

"In 2019, we'll see where we're at. Today the answer is no. I never take anything off the table, but I loved being Governor of Virginia, loved it," he said.

Running for Senate or Congress he says is a firm no. He says they don't get enough done.

Looking back at what he's done over the last four years, Governor McAuliffe says he's most proud of creating jobs after the recession and sequestration.

"The numbers speak for themselves. $19 billion in new capital investment. Unemployment has gone from 5.4 to 3.6 percent. We're now the second lowest in the country," said McAuliffe.

His other top goal when he took office was to improve transportation. He pulled the plug on the costly, failed 460 project and he recently cut the ribbon on the first phase of widening I-64 between Hampton Roads and Richmond.

"$10 billion in projects, no political roads," he added. "The Port of Virginia, we saved that. That was about to go under. It's now been profitable for three straight years in a row."

For those accomplishments and others, Governing Magazine just named McAuliffe Public Official of the Year.

His biggest regret is not succeeding in expanding Medicaid.

He says his toughest day as Governor was recent: the moment on Aug. 12 he learned a protester and two state troopers he worked with were killed at the Charlottesville alt-right rally.

"The hard part was when I had to address the nation at that press conference. It was hard on me personally, because I was so devastated by what I'd seen and heard from these people," he recalled.

As for advice he would give Governor-elect Ralph Northam, he recommends further increasing teacher salaries.

"The big thing I think he faces is teacher shortages. We have 1,000 teacher shortages right now. I'm proud we did two pay raises, two under my term, but we're still $7,900 under the national average in Virginia," he said.

Governor-elect Northam's inauguration will be held Jan. 13.

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