Were 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. Thats why,
tonight, I am pleased to announce new jobs in other regions of our
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, thats 750 new jobs and more than $25 million invested in
Southside and Southwest Virginia!
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!
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 youre on the right track, youll
get run over if you just sit there."
So tonight, let me briefly outline the steps well 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
The good news is that Virginias strong job growth has increased projected
revenue collections by approximately $918 million.
We hope this trend will continue, and well 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
We will not use these additional revenues to create tax or spending
commitments that we cant 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,
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
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.