Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis and Delegate Kirk Cox Offer Republican Perspective on the State of the Commonwealth
RICHMOND , VA –– Tonight Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-Fairfax) and Delegate M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights) offered the Republican perspective on the State of the Commonwealth following Governor Tim Kaine’s address to a Joint Assembly of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia. The remarks are as follows:
Good evening. I am State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis from Fairfax . Along with my good friend, Delegate Kirk Cox from Colonial Heights , we will be sharing with you some of the issues Republicans in the General Assembly will be focusing on this Session.
Kirk . . . .
Delegate Cox :
Thank you, Jeannemarie.
At the start of this new year, this new Session and this new Administration, I believe – to borrow a phrase from Ronald Reagan, “It is morning again in Virginia . ”
Our economy is booming. More Virginians are working than ever before. Our schools serve our children better than ever before. As a public school teacher, I can see the results and our kids are scoring better than ever on state and national tests.
But that’s not all: Crime rates are low. Government programs and services are being streamlined using new technology. And Virginia is rightfully called the “Internet Capital of the World.”
There is no question in my mind, and that of many others, that the spark igniting this latest rebirth – this Virginia Renaissance – was lit when George Allen was Governor.
We have continued to build on that legacy on a bi-partisan basis.
We have led with principles… tested new ideas with good common sense… and advanced a broad-based reform agenda to make Virginia a better place to live, work, learn and raise a family.
This upbeat assessment of the state of our Commonwealth is one shared by many, including our former Governor Mark Warner, who declared last week that the “State of the Commonwealth” was “strong.” We agree.
In truth, however, Republicans know that our tremendous progress has its origins not in government, but in the spirit and aspirations – the hard work and special character – of the people of Virginia .
This is the key to understanding Virginia ’s storied history and promising future.
Yes, Virginia is strong. But we reject the arguments of those who say government must tax people more to make Virginia stronger. For when you try to squeeze money out of people who made possible all this progress, you impede that very progress.
Tonight, we have just heard from our newly inaugurated Governor, Tim Kaine. We wish him well.
Like him, we recognize that each new day brings new challenges and opportunities. Nowhere is that more true than in transportation.
Not surprisingly, we did not agree with everything he said. But quite frankly, we were encouraged by ideas he outlined and began to discuss in greater detail.
We welcome, for example, the fact that he rejected calling for higher taxes.
With vehicles becoming more fuel efficient, we agree that it isn’t really prudent to increasingly rely on a revenue source – such as the gas tax – that’s likely to decline even as transportation needs increase.
Also, we were encouraged by the Governor’s focus on finding innovative solutions to transportation problems as opposed to reflexively demanding more from Virginia taxpayers .
Like just about everyone, we recognize there’s a need for long-term transportation reforms in Virginia . But as our new Governor’s recent town hall meetings on transportation clearly demonstrated, there is no single solution – much less consensus – on this very complex challenge.
As we delve into transportation issues this session, Republicans are convinced that a real solution will not be provided by just throwing more money at the problem and sending a blank check to VDOT. Instead, we intend to pursue multi-faceted reforms.
We all know that the transportation system of the 21 st century is vital if we are to improve our communities, make lives better for commuting families, and attract the new investment and new jobs that will keep our economy growing stronger.
We are ready to work with the Governor and the Senate – across party lines – to achieve these goals through genuine, forward-looking reforms.
Of course, transportation will not be the only issue we focus on this Session.
Republicans will continue to champion education reforms and investments – just as we have done for more than a decade now with the Standards of Learning, the higher education restructuring initiative, the Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act, and other reforms that have set the pace for the nation.
Education is the key to individual opportunity for every child, and it is the key to the future strength of this great Commonwealth.
Restoring integrity to Medicaid is another high priority for House Republicans. We also will make it easier for small businesses and their employees to access needed healthcare at more affordable prices.
And Republicans will have other priorities this Session:
Like continuing the program we in the House initiated to restore our wonderful Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
Like cracking down on illicit drugs such as methamphetamines and keeping sexual predators behind bars.
As well as protecting private property rights and fostering continued strong economic development in Virginia .
And, finally, we Republicans understand that government does not have all the answers.
With record budget surpluses, we look forward to working with Republicans, Independents and Democrats – as well as the Governor’s Office – to enact real tax relief.
For example, we will eliminate the “Death Tax” so that family farms and businesses do not have to be sold off to pay the taxes.
We also will help families cover the cost of school supplies by creating a Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday .
And we will carefully examine the $245 million in new spending initiatives included in the budget introduced by the former Governor.
Instead of creating new and costly government programs, we need to honor Virginia ’s tradition of fiscal conserva tism by letting people keep more of their hard-earned dollars.
We all know that Virginians have been asked to shoulder a greater burden when economic hard times set in.
But now that the Commonwealth is enjoying a budget surplus far in excess of what was projected, it is time to pay a responsible dividend to the people who footed the bill.
Jeannemarie . . . . .
Thank you, Kirk.
Last Saturday, we witnessed the inauguration of Virginia ’s 70 th Governor, Tim Kaine. For only the third time in Virginia ’s history, the swearing in took place in historic Williamsburg .
During his inaugural address, Governor Kaine compared the challenges that our early leaders faced with the challenges that we face today.
Our founding fathers worked tirelessly to create a Republic with constitutional guidelines that have survived the test of time.
When they established these guidelines could they ever have imagined the vast changes in our society?
Could they have ever imagined the vast global economy that we find ourselves in today, where Virginia ’s businesses compete with those around the world?
Could they have ever imagined the development of the automobile and the traffic gridlock that we find ourselves in, today?
Could they have ever imagined a system of public schools and universities available to every child in Virginia ?
Could they have ever imagined the advent of the internet and the advancement of communications and information sharing that it has provided?
We face challenges that our founding fathers could have never imagined.
I would like to address just a few of these challenges that my fellow Republican Senators and I have identified as our priorities.
We need to address the growing cost of health care, which continues to consume more and more of our general fund budget and more and more of our business community’s resources, while driving health care providers away.
We must dedicate ourselves to creating a strategic plan to funding transportation infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth. We must address the traffic gridlock in Northern Virginia (the third worst in the nation), the growing traffic gridlock in the Hampton Roads area, the lack of transportation infrastructure in the rural areas and the very dangerous commingling of automobiles and truck traffic along the I-81 corridor.
In the new budget there is no desire to start expensive new programs which will drive up the cost of future budgets.
There is a strong desire to put an end to the death tax and many want a back-to-school sales tax holiday.
There is a universal consensus to improve our monitoring of violent sex offenders.
On a more long range basis, we will be working on developing a state energy policy and looking for ways to ensure a quality and affordable college education for the ever growing number of young people who want to fulfill their dream of attending college.
We appreciate Governor Kaine offering to work in partnership with us to move Virginia forward in the coming years.
On behalf of Kirk and all my fellow Republican legislators, we thank you for sharing these few minutes with us and look forward to working on your behalf in the 2006 General Assembly session. VA Republican Party