Gov. Youngkin delivers State of the Commonwealth address

Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 3:47 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2023 at 9:58 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Gov. Glenn Youngkin delivered the State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday afternoon, saying, “Virginia truly is the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

“I’m here this afternoon to urge us to accelerate our efforts – to get more done and get it done faster - and make Virginia even stronger,” Youngkin said, “So we can compete to win economically, attract the best jobs and unlock the dreams and rich talents of all our people.”

Youngkin’s State of the Commonwealth marks the return of the General Assembly, which kicked off its legislative session earlier in the day.

“Today, I stand before you to say that Virginians expect more from us,” Youngkin said in prepared remarks. “Because while the people expect us to debate and argue over what divides us - Virginians demand that we come together on what unites us.”

As part of what he calls his Day Two agenda, Youngkin wants to lower taxes for low and middle-income families by increasing the standard deduction by another 20 percent.

He hopes by lowering taxes and the costs of living, more people will want to move and stay in Virginia.

“The plan I have laid out utilizes one billion of $3.6 billion projected surplus for tax relief, and it is structurally sound,” Youngkin said.

The governor also said he wanted to combat learning loss from the effects of COVID-19 by keeping teachers and providing more retention bonuses.

He also wants to focus on programs that will reduce the number of vacancies for law enforcement and nurses.

In a more controversial move, Youngkin said he also hopes to introduce a 15-week abortion ban.

“This session, I have asked the General Assembly to come together to protect life at 15 weeks, the point when a baby can feel pain. It is clear, Virginians want fewer abortions, not more,” Youngkin said.

Shortly after his speech, Democrats responded via a previously recorded message.

“Let’s get to the speech we just heard, we heard from a governor focused on running for president and appeasing the MAGA movement not looking out for families,” Don Scott, Democrat House Minority Leader, said. “A governor who wants to give handouts and tax breaks to the wealthiest among us.”

Democrats went on to say the governor’s plans only benefit a few and not all Virginians.

“We have a vision that our freedoms from reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, to voting rights remain protected,” Sen. Mamie Locke said. “We have a vision of delivering a world-class education for every child, no matter their zip code. We have a vision for keeping our community safe and healthy.”

While there is a divide on some topics, there are some areas both sides agree on, including finding solutions to Virginia’s mental health care crisis, lowering energy costs and investing in schools.