Delegate Ronald A. Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, and Senator Siobhan S. Dunnavant (R-Henrico) tonight delivered the Republican perspective on the State of Commonwealth.
The text of their remarks, which were broadcast following 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 Siobhan Dunnavant from Henrico County.”
“And I’m Delegate Ron Villanueva from Virginia Beach, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
“Tonight, Governor McAuliffe detailed his agenda for what will be his final General Assembly session.
“With last November’s elections, there are big changes coming to our nation’s Capitol. Some of these changes, like rebuilding our national defense and including coal in a comprehensive approach to energy independence, will greatly benefit Virginia.
“Between now and February 25th, the General Assembly will be considering around 2,000 bills and resolutions submitted by the lawmakers you elected.
“There are many challenges we need to address during this session. We will be promoting legislation to:
- Repair our economic development outreach and incentive programs, to restore Virginia’s ranking as America’s best state for business;
- Reduce the regulatory burden by cutting the government red tape that strangles job creation;
- Eliminate fraudulent welfare spending by instituting reforms that will preserve this safety net for those truly in need;
- Improve education by funding our public schools and encouraging greater choice for parents; and
- Combat the heroin addiction crisis that is devastating families and entire communities.
“During General Assembly sessions, what you read in your local paper or see on the local news may not always reflect what is occupying most of our time in Richmond. This disconnect occurs because the issues that receive most of our attention aren’t as exciting as the latest partisan squabble.
“We believe Virginians have had enough of partisan squabbles. The commonsense priorities we have set for this session are conservative, but they are also intended to garner widespread support from both parties.
“We will also be amending Virginia’s two-year budget this session. The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, on which Senator Dunnavant serves, will be making changes to bring our budget back into balance.”
“Producing a balanced budget that addresses Virginia’s needs is one of the General Assembly’s most important responsibilities.
“For the first time since taking office, Governor McAuliffe has not included funding from Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion in his budget. Although he is proposing to eliminate restrictions on his power to unilaterally implement Obamacare, his choice not to include these funds is a positive acknowledgment of the changes coming to Washington.
“By taking Medicaid expansion off the table, we can now begin the hard work of repairing and reforming an essential part of the social safety net. As a practicing physician, I know firsthand the importance of addressing this problem. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission has made recommendations to reform Medicaid, which we will be considering this session.
“Virginia’s government establishes its priorities in the budget. We will be placing an emphasis on providing funding for the core functions of state government.
“We will prioritize funding for our public schools and continue to support our colleges and universities.
“We will ensure our public safety professionals have the resources they need and address compensation deficiencies for our State Police and Sheriff’s Deputies.
“And, we will continue our strong support for economic and workforce development.
“Finally, you have our commitment that we will balance Virginia’s budget without raising your taxes. Just as your family must live within its means, a government that serves you must allocate your tax dollars responsibly.
“Tonight, you have our commitment that we will complete our work on the budget – and all legislation – on time.
“On behalf of Delegate Villanueva and myself, thank you for watching tonight. We wish you and your family a happy and prosperous new year.”