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Gov. Bob McDonnell Tapped for GOP SOTU Response

2:30 PM, Jan 21, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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And, it is why, even in these tough times, we will have the foresight to invest today in ideas and policies that increase economic prosperity tomorrow.

This economic crisis has touched every Virginian.

Declining home values and diminished retirement accounts have wiped away in just a few months the accumulated savings of many years.

As jobs are lost and consumer confidence remains low, state revenues have declined, and an historic budget shortfall has stretched into the billions. Thus, like so many households and businesses across the Commonwealth, state government needs to devise new ways to operate and find savings.

This austerity won’t be easy, but it is necessary. The circumstances of our time demand that we reconsider and restore the proper role of government.  Without reform the continued growth of government threatens our very prosperity.

We must properly fund the core priorities of government, but-- equally important--we must utilize innovation, privatization, and consolidations to deliver government services more effectively.

And as we enact these reforms we must remember this: that government cannot guarantee individual outcomes, but equality of opportunity must be guaranteed for all.

All Virginians must have the same fundamental opportunities to work hard, live free and succeed.

Access to a quality education is the foundation of future opportunity.  My Dad stressed to me as a child that to get a good job, you need a good education. It was true then and even more true today.

Virginians are blessed with many great schools with dedicated, professional teachers like my sister Nancy in Amherst, who work tirelessly to mold the minds and character of the next generation.

To compete in this global economy every young Virginian must have the opportunity of a world-class education from pre-school to college.

A child’s future prospects should be as unlimited as his intelligence, integrity and work ethic can take him. No child in Virginia should have her future determined by her place of birth or zip code.

We will work with President Obama to expand high-quality charter schools and institute performance pay to our great teachers.

More money must go to the classroom and less into administration, and new opportunities in science, technology, engineering, math and healthcare must be created through our schools and colleges.

And let us recognize that a high school degree is no longer the finish line in a global economy.  We must create affordable new pathways to earning a college degree and make a commitment to confer 100,000 additional degrees over the next 15 years.  We must make our community colleges national leaders in workforce development and career training. 

These are investments that will pay individual and societal dividends for many years to come.

Barbara Johns was willing to risk everything for the simple opportunity of a good education. Surely, sixty years later, we can work together to provide that opportunity to all Virginia children. 

Our Administration will demand excellence, reward performance, provide choices and celebrate achievement.

God has bestowed upon our Commonwealth an amazing wealth of natural resources. Virginians have the intellectual capital to use these resources to create new jobs, reduce our energy bills, and make our nation more energy independent.

We will make Virginia the “Energy Capital of the East Coast.” By growing the natural gas and coal industries, expanding the use of nuclear power, and promoting new energy technologies like wind, solar and biomass.

And we will champion environmentally-safe offshore energy exploration and production, bringing with it thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions in new state revenue and billions in new investment.

We must also seize the opportunity to improve our transportation system by getting long overdue projects underway, and utilizing innovative ideas to build the roads, bridges, rail and ports we need.

A better transportation system will create new opportunities for Virginians across the state.

These are policies focused on addressing the real problems our people face, and delivering results.

I’ve had people tell me they fear that America may no longer be the land of opportunity it has always been, and that Virginia’s history in playing a leading role in the life of our nation may be just that—history. I say: They are wrong.

Working together--Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike—Virginia will continue to blaze the trail of opportunity and prosperity.

And like the mechanic looking to the owner’s manual to troubleshoot the automobile, we should look to the Founders and their writings for wisdom.

The Founders capstone on the Constitution is the Bill of Rights. No federal mandate nor program crafted by either political party should undermine the central principle of federalism, enshrined in the birth certificate of America by those who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor.

The Founders recognized that the government closest to the people governs best. More often than not, Richmond knows better about the hopes and dreams of the people than Washington. And Galax and Fairfax and Virginia Beach know far better than Richmond.

As we enthusiastically pursue the vision of “A Commonwealth of Opportunity”, I ask all Virginians to continue to seek your own opportunities to get involved in the life of our Commonwealth.

Half a century ago President Kennedy challenged the American people to “ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” Today, I ask all Virginians to rise up to meet this timeless challenge.

We live in the most generous nation on Earth. So many Virginians give sacrificially of their time, talents and treasure, and rightly so. The Scriptures say, “To whom much is given, much will be required.”

Right now, much is required in the nation of Haiti. And I urge all Virginians to donate to the relief efforts underway.

Here in our Commonwealth, I urge business owners to look for opportunities to sponsor a little league team, help a charity, and promote corporate responsibility in the communities in which you live and work.

I urge all the leaders of our faith communities to expand your selfless work of helping the homeless, feeding the poor, and comforting the broken hearted.

I urge the young people of Virginia to use your talents and energy to fully engage in the future of this Commonwealth.

 I urge Virginians who came here from other lands to contribute your culture, your history and your traditions to our rich tapestry of life.

I urge every Virginian to take every opportunity to thank a man or woman in a law enforcement or military uniform for the preservation of our freedoms.

There is so much each one of us can do to leave this Commonwealth a better place than we found it.

No government program can substitute for the incredible good done through voluntary actions performed freely by caring individuals every day.

And while government can help provide opportunities, it is every person’s responsibility to take advantage of them.

In recent weeks I’ve seen people exercising that responsibility, and changing lives at:

 The Healing Place in Richmond

The Carpenter’s Shelter in Alexandria

Food Banks in Abingdon, Norfolk and Richmond

The Boys and Girls Club in Virginia Beach

The USO in Norfolk

As a Commonwealth, we must do the same…… and we will.

Standing here today, on the steps of our State Capitol, in the inspiring shadows of the shared history behind us, we embrace the limitless future opportunities stretching out far before us…..

And now it is here, in this place, that we pledge to work together to create “A Commonwealth of Opportunity”…..for all Virginians, and to add our steps to Virginia’s journey.

It was George Washington who noted, in his first Inaugural Address, “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected to remain on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”

It is right to help one another.

It is right to work together to get results and solve problems.

It is right to provide opportunities for all.

Let us heed the words of the Father of our Country, employ these eternal rules of order and right, and get to work for the good of the people of Virginia.

Thank you and God Bless the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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