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

We’re outpacing the rest of the nation in creating new jobs. As many of you know, on a single day last November, we were able to announce more than 11,000 new jobs coming to the Commonwealth.

And while we know that Northern Virginia is driving much of our economic recovery, every new job we can bring to Virginia is important. That’s why, tonight, I am pleased to announce new jobs in other regions of our Commonwealth.

In Patrick County, Ten Oaks is creating 150 news jobs!

In Henry County, Texturing Services is creating 200 new jobs!

And finally, in Roanoke, FreightCar America is creating 400 new jobs!

My friends, that’s 750 new jobs and more than $25 million invested in Southside and Southwest Virginia!

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While we still have much work to do, we are seeing encouraging signs of growth all across the Commonwealth.

In Smyth County, which I will be visiting tomorrow, the unemployment rate has dropped from 12 percent two years ago to 4.5 percent.

Together, we will build on these successes in the coming year.

In deciding to locate jobs here, these and other firms have cited our schools, quality of life, and commitment to fiscally sound government. My fellow Virginians, for all of these reasons and more, I am proud to report that the State of the Commonwealth is strong!

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But tonight is no time to rest on our laurels.

We still have much work to do.

And as Will Rogers once said, "Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there."

So tonight, let me briefly outline the steps we’ll take in this new year to keep Virginia on the right track ... to move forward ... and to complete the work we started together three years ago.

We begin with what has been the hallmark of this administration: fiscal discipline.

The good news is that Virginia’s strong job growth has increased projected revenue collections by approximately $918 million.

We hope this trend will continue, and we’ll work hard to make sure it does. It shows that our economy is rebounding and that investors have renewed confidence in our state.

But let me repeat what I said to the money committees last month: how we respond to these increasingly prosperous times will say as much about us as how we dealt with the tough times.

In short, I am determined that Virginia will not repeat the mistakes of the past.

We will not use these additional revenues to create tax or spending commitments that we can’t afford over the long-term.

We will not - as some have advocated - retreat from what we accomplished last year: a fairer tax code; restored fiscal discipline; and the resources needed to meet the core commitments of government.

The reason is simple: we must take a long term view. We know that in a growing state, rising costs for health care ... corrections ... and an increasing school population will place renewed strains on future budgets.

So we will invest the vast majority of these revenues for three basic, one-time purposes.

First, we will cut the food tax two years ahead of schedule.

This will provide immediate tax relief for every Virginian.

Second, to help keep Virginia fiscally strong, we will make an additional $229 million contribution to the Rainy Day Fund.

Every family understands the value of putting aside extra money when times are good.

Third, we will invest in urgently-needed, one-time projects that will help sustain our rebounding economy.

Nothing better meets this last principle than improving transportation for the people of Virginia.

The transportation plan I have submitted to you represents an $824 million investment to ease traffic congestion ... jump-start new projects ... and strengthen rail and public transportation.

This package continues the reforms we began three years ago by eliminating deficits on completed projects. We have already reduced these deficits from $867 million in 2002, to $256 million today.

With this budget, we will end this practice once and for all.

Our plan also sets aside $140 million to support public-private partnerships in transportation.

In many cases, a modest investment from the state can get these projects from the drawing board ... to construction ... to actual completion.

We propose $23 million to promote greater use of rail partnerships throughout the Commonwealth. This will be the first dedicated source of funding for rail in Virginia history.


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