And we brought sound business practices to state government.
We merged the technology functions of state government. We leveraged the
purchasing power of the state to save taxpayers millions of dollars. We
expanded the use of technology in the procurement of goods and services.
And we are beginning to manage our real estate portfolio like a business
These reforms make good business sense, and theyll save the taxpayers tens
of millions of dollars.
Together, we began to fix the problems that had plagued VDOT. You gave
overwhelming approval to our proposals to improve management and
accountability on major transportation projects.
You supported us when we made the tough decision to take almost 30 percent,
or $2.8 billion out of the six-year transportation plan, transforming it
from a wish-list into a realistic blueprint.
We still have some miles to travel in fully reforming transportation in
Virginia. But because of your support, we have made enormous progress.
Most significantly, weve dramatically increased the on-time and on-budget
performance for road projects.
On a different front, we worked together to win approval of a billion
dollar bond package for our colleges, museums and state parks.
Together, we have recognized that a stronger economic foundation comes from
giving every Virginian the opportunity to succeed. To that end, we are
helping more Virginians with disabilities fulfill the promise of true
We have embraced diversity as never before and recruited more women and
minorities to serve. We have begun to reverse Virginias poor record of
women and minority participation in state procurement.
And we have made certain that more of our people are reached by the
services that are intended for them.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in FAMIS, Virginias health
insurance program for low- and moderate-income children. When I took
office, getting more children enrolled in FAMIS was one of our highest
priorities. Thousands of children who qualified for the program were not
Together, we enacted legislation to cut the red tape that kept too many of
Virginias children from getting the medical care they need.
And because we did, Virginia now has one of the best records in the country
on childrens health insurance. In the last three years alone, we have
provided healthcare for 116,000 additional children.
On behalf of Virginias children, I thank you for your efforts.
Just as we seized the chance to reform state government during the
fiscal crisis, we never wavered in our shared commitment to public
Education has been the cornerstone of our work to build a stronger, more
At a time when many states retreated from their commitment to education, we
not only refused to cut K-12 support, but you approved record increases in
state support for our public schools.
But we have done more than just invest new money.
Together, we launched smart, low-cost reforms in Virginias schools.
Our Partnership for Achieving Successful Schools is raising student
achievement among those children most at risk of failure.
Three years after launching PASS, over 90 percent of these schools have
shown marked improvement on their SOLs.
We fostered new opportunities for learning for juniors and seniors in high
school with a series of reforms that are capturing the attention of a
Earlier today, President Bush spoke of the importance of high school
reforms like these at Jeb Stuart High School in Fairfax County.
Together with the Microsoft Corporation and the University of Virginia, we
initiated a program to train school principals to turn-around troubled
With your support, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to the
Standards of Learning. Last year, the Class of 2004 was the first group of
high school seniors that had to pass the SOLs to graduate.
The Class of 2004 met that challenge thanks in part to the active
intervention we offered through Project Graduation. The graduation rate
last year was virtually identical to past years.
All across the Commonwealth the story is the same. By almost any measure,
Virginias schools continue to improve.
Thanks to your support - and Virginians strong commitment to
standards-based education - our schools are on the right track and moving
Finally, let me say a word about tax and budget reform, which was the
subject of so much debate during the last session. Im not going to rehash
all the arguments we made last year, and Im going to spare you that
infamous PowerPoint presentation of mine.
But what I will say is this: Tax reform was an essential component of our
work to fix Virginias finances and to build the foundation for a stronger
economy - one where our people truly will enjoy a Commonwealth of
Tax reform affirmed a basic value that Virginians live by every day, which
is that we pay our bills and keep our commitments.
With the budget that we passed last year, we achieved the three goals that
I articulated from this podium one year ago.
We made the tax code fairer for Virginias families.
We provided the funding necessary to meet our core commitments in
education, health services and public safety.
And we restored Virginias fiscal integrity. In fact, Wall Street
reaffirmed Virginias Aaa bond rating less than three weeks after the
budget was enacted.
By almost any measure, the steps we have taken together over these past
three years on education, the budget, and government reform have put the
Commonwealth on the right track economically.
And the facts bear that out.