Last night, both chambers of the General Assembly convened with other government leaders to hear the Governor’s annual “State of the Commonwealth” address. This longstanding tradition serves as an opportunity for Virginia’s highest-ranking public official to recognize past achievements and lay out a vision for the future of the Commonwealth.
Terry McAuliffe did plenty of the former but very little of the latter! Instead of a forward-thinking vision, the Governor presented us with a retread of battles already fought and policies that have proven to be failures.
There was plenty to laud in the opening minutes of the speech as the Governor presented positive improvements regarding economic development and job growth over the course of the previous year. We should all continue working together to ensure that Virginia remains the best state in the nation in which to do business while advocating strongly for a responsible government that lives within its means.
However, it didn’t take long for Governor McAuliffe to begin rehashing the past and pushing for the usual pet projects found on every progressive’s wish list: Medicaid expansion, gun control, and more government spending with no meaningful cuts. The Governor also spoke about improving K-12 education but still refuses to embrace meaningful education reform, such as charter schools.
It’s this kind of agenda that is untenable and reckless in a time where legislators would be prudent to buckle down and focus on core services rather than talk about more spending and higher taxes, which was ironically the one thing missing from last night’s speech.
I would ask the Governor how he plans on expanding services and adding more government programs without any cuts or offsetting spending reductions. You can’t promise the world without a meaningful plan to pay for it. Higher taxes are not the answer, especially at a time when Virginians, on average, are currently spending more on taxes than they are on food, clothing, and shelter combined.
McAuliffe is peddling a cynical and divisive politically driven agenda that he knows will never see the light of day. Instead, Republicans are working on significant initiatives that will create a more meaningful impact on the lives of Virginia families.
Moving forward, I will continue fighting for a more limited, responsible government that focuses on core services without raising taxes on Virginia’s working families. This is why this year’s state elections are so important. I am committed to traveling the Commonwealth in 2015 campaigning for like-minded conservatives who will work with me on the critical issues that are important to Virginians.
I hope my colleagues across the aisle are willing to come to the table and work on promoting a safer, more prosperous Virginia, but one thing was confirmed last night: Governor McAuliffe’s empty rhetoric is not a blueprint for the future!
Mark Obenshain is a Harrisonburg state senator.