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Prepared Remarks of Gov. Mark Warner's State of the Commonwealth

Wednesday, January 12, 2005; 7:00 PM

The following is the prepared text of Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's State of the Commonwealth address, delivered at 7 p.m. Wednesday to a joint session of the House of Delegates and Senate.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, members of the General Assembly, ladies and gentlemen: Good evening.

Tonight is a time when Virginians come together to celebrate the achievements of the past, and to embrace the challenges that confront us at the dawn of a new year.

Before I start, let me take a moment to recognize the four most important people in my life: my wife Lisa and our three daughters: Madison, Gillian and Eliza. Thank you for your love and support.

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We are filled this evening with hope, optimism and the shared determination to do what is best for our people.

We renew old friendships from a session that seemed ... well, like it ended only yesterday.

We are pleased tonight to see Delegate Leo Wardrup back with us. Leo, you are looking strong and for that, we’re grateful.

At the same time, I know that we all have Delegate Marian Van Landingham in our thoughts and prayers. Marian, if you are watching, please know that we’re all thinking of you.

And tonight we welcome a new delegate from Norfolk.

Delegate Paula Miller, congratulations!

Let me also welcome back to this Chamber an old friend in a brand new job - Our Commonwealth’s first Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Bloxom!

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The State of the Commonwealth Address is always a spirited occasion, and that’s just as it should be. But before we get caught up in the spirit of the moment, let’s pause to remember those Virginians who are serving our nation around the world tonight.

As I speak, there are almost 2,000 members of the Virginia National Guard who have been called to active duty. Almost 1,600 of these men and women are deployed overseas. Thousands of other Virginians are serving as regular members of the U.S. military.

Our Commonwealth still mourns the loss of four Virginians who were killed during last month’s suicide attack on our troops in Mosul. We honor all of our soldiers who were lost over the past year.

Whether our service members are fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan ... or responding to the heart-wrenching devastation in Southeast Asia, they serve in the highest traditions of this nation. Their sacrifices call to mind the values that have sustained this nation in good times and bad: loyalty, patriotism, courage and service.

Tonight, our prayers are with America’s soldiers, just as they’re with President Bush...and all who are leading our military forces.

We’re also mindful on this occasion of another group of distinguished citizens.

In this post-911 era, first-responders come to work every day facing new threats and added responsibilities. They are our police officers ... our firefighters ... our state troopers ... our sheriff’s deputies... and our correctional officers.

Here in Virginia and across the nation, they have worked tirelessly to keep us safe and to prevent additional attacks.

Tonight, I have invited representatives from the Virginia National Guard, and from the first-responder community to join us in the gallery.

Let us honor their service tonight and throughout the year!

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When I first came before you three years ago, the Commonwealth faced an uncertain future.

Political gridlock ... a deepening national recession ... and a lack of fiscal discipline had created the worst budgetary crisis in Virginia history.

The record shortfalls we inherited threatened not only our economy, but also Virginia’s tradition of fiscal integrity.

We found too many agencies - like VDOT - using outdated business practices to guide their operations.

When I spoke to you that night three years ago, I asked you to join me in a renewed spirit of bipartisanship - one that would look not for a Democratic solution or a Republican solution, but rather a Virginia solution.

I asked you to stand with me in building a stronger foundation for Virginia’s future - one that would guarantee new jobs and make us more competitive in a rapidly-changing world.

And that’s exactly what you did.

And tonight, with renewed confidence in the future, I thank you.

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Working together during the past three years, we have confounded the skeptics and the cynics.

We’ve shown that here in Virginia, Democrats and Republicans can come together ... put politics aside ... and make tough decisions when times demand it.

We began where the need was greatest, with the budget.

Together, we made the tough choices necessary to balance the budget. We cut spending. We cut the size of the state workforce. We consolidated agencies.


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