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Note: The following speech is unedited material supplied by the Gilmore campaign.

Gilmore Announces Gubernatorial Candidacy

May 8, 1997

I have a vision and I have a plan for the future of Virginia.

As the candidate who will keep Virginia moving forward, I am committed to our children enjoying opportunities even greater than those which have been given to us.

In the Gilmore Administration, we will keep Virginia moving forward.

Today, I want to pay tribute to the man who has been the architect of Virginia's remarkable renaissance, my partner for these last four years, our great Governor, George Allen.

Thanks to Governor Allen's steadfast, forward-looking, common-sense leadership, violent crime in Virginia is falling, more Virginians than ever are working, businesses small and large are growing, and welfare rolls are shrinking.

As I look to the future and how we can build on this solid foundation, I see two main pillars that must be erected:

First, we must invest in our young people. Their education and safety must be our top priority.

Second, we must invest in Virginia's economic future, and relieve the burden on hard-working, taxpaying families. We must act now to assure Virginia's sustained competitiveness and economic growth.

As Governor, I will finish the job of raising Virginia's academic standards, testing to measure student achievement, and issuing school report cards that let parents and taxpayers know how their schools are performing.

I will continue the freeze on college tuition, while increasing funding to compensate for inflation.

In my administration, the resources produced by Virginia's dynamic economic growth will permit more than a billion-dollar increase in education funding.

We'll provide funding for 4,000 new elementary school teachers. Local school systems may participate if they use the new teachers to reduce class size or provide remedial programs for students who fall short of our new academic standards.

I will create the New Century Scholars program -- a $2,000 scholarship for students -- to encourage and reward excellence in achievement and conduct.

I will help school teachers maintain safe and disciplined classrooms.

I want to work with our universities and colleges to help prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century. I intend to appoint a blue-ribbon commission to review the needs and goals of higher education in Virginia in the 21st century.

This is my plan for excellence and accountability in education: High academic standards, remedial help for students who fall short, more individual attention for students in smaller classes, merit-based scholarships to encourage our young people to meet and surpass our high academic standards, safe, orderly classrooms in which teachers can teach and young people can learn, and an end to the self-defeating practice of promoting students who have not earned the grade.

All Virginians, but especially our young people, have benefited from the strong actions that Governor Allen and I have taken to fight violent crime.

We abolished parole. We reformed and strengthened the juvenile justice system. We put in place a mandatory arrest policy in cases of domestic abuse. We enacted a Victims Bill of Rights.

As a result of these and other anti-crime measures, murder, rape and robbery in our state have declined by 12 percent. That is good news indeed and proof that we're on the right track -- but there is more to be done.

While we in Virginia have been exercising leadership to make our streets and neighborhoods safe, there has been an absence of leadership in Washington in protecting our children from drugs and gangs.

Through strong leadership, determination, and the moral commitment to take responsibility for ourselves and our children we can make a difference. It's time for us to once again take responsibility for ourselves.

In every community, at every level of government, from every walk of life, we must join together to regain lost ground. We cannot and should not rely on Washington.

That's why as Governor, I will institute a new way of doing things. A New Partnership between state and local government, community and business leaders, educators, and law enforcement to get drug peddlers and gangs off the streets, keep drugs out of our schools, and give our children hope and opportunity.

On the issue of drugs, Governor Allen and I have announced pilot programs in five Virginia cities to "weed out" drug criminals and gangs from our most crime-ridden neighborhoods, and provide assistance to law abiding citizens and their children to provide "seeds of hope" for the future. We must make this program reach all across Virginia.

As Governor, I will propose new measures to help parents, schools and the courts to identify gang members and activities.

I will propose making it a criminal act to recruit children into gangs -- and I'll propose increasing the penalties for any gang member who commits a crime.

Roxane and I will take our anti-drug, anti-gang message to schools throughout the Commonwealth.

Every cabinet member in my administration will be required to submit a plan for what their agencies can begin doing within 30 days to attack the problems of drugs and gangs.

Where women and children face a home life marred by violence, our New Partnership will assist in providing a safe haven for the victims of domestic abuse.

I also propose that Virginia enact laws allowing for victims of domestic abuse to testify in court prior to the sentencing of their abusers.

Together, through our New Partnership to cooperate in the fight against gangs, drugs and abuse, we can restore people's hope of a better life.

The Allen-Gilmore administration will be remembered for ground-breaking reforms in many areas. But creating job opportunities for Virginians -- today, and in the next century -- may well be Governor Allen's greatest legacy.

More than 200,000 jobs have been created; more than 600 new companies now call Virginia home; and during the past three years, we've had nearly $12 billion in new investments.

This progress means new opportunities for small businesses, more and better jobs for our young people; and dramatically increasing revenues that allow us to make forward-looking public investments in education, public safety, better transportation, and a cleaner environment.

Today, unemployment is at a seven-year low. Government revenues are growing at an annual rate of more than 8 percent -- nearly 3 percent higher than was projected even a year ago.

As Governor, I will continue and expand the pro-growth, pro-taxpayer policies that are responsible for this dynamic economy and dramatic prosperity.

In the last two years, Maryland and North Carolina have cut taxes sharply in an effort to gain a competitive edge over Virginia. Despite this direct challenge, some say we should stand pat. Some even say we should try to persuade Virginians to pay higher taxes.

Oh, they retreat for now under the glare of the headlines. But let no doubt that the philosophy of our opponents remains one that trusts big government rather than placing its faith in the hard-working taxpaying people of Virginia.

Accordingly, after we fund our major new education investment in the Gilmore administration, my next priority will be to use our economic growth revenues to provide tax relief to Virginia's working families.

Specifically, we will abolish the property tax on the personal cars and trucks -- the non-luxury vehicles -- of Virginia families.

Ninety percent of Virginians drive vehicles valued at $20,000 or less. These are the cars and trucks they rely on every day for everything, from driving themselves to work and their kids to school, to taking meals to elderly shut-ins and buying groceries for the family.

This regressive tax is a burden on virtually every working family in Virginia. To relieve it, my plan would exempt every Virginia taxpayer from the local personal property tax on the first $20,000 of the assessed value of their vehicle.

To ensure that local governments do not absorb the revenue loss, the state will reimburse them for the foregone taxes dollar for dollar.

This tax relief is a dividend, paid by Virginia's growing economy to the working families of our Commonwealth, whose toil and taxes, ingenuity and investment, have made our prosperity possible.

In the past, the high-tax lobby has resisted pro-growth tax cuts by scaring Virginians with lurid tales of cuts in services. That dishonest tactic will not work here. We will use growth revenues, and growth revenues alone, to phase in this tax relief. If the growth does not occur as we hope -- it it's not sufficient to let us sharply increase our education investment and maintain essential services -- then this tax relief will be delayed.

But, here is the reality: In Governor Allen's record and the economic data, we have strong, tangible evidence today that our pro-growth, pro-taxpayer policies are working. And our thriving economy will enable us to pay this tax-relief dividend to working Virginia families.

We can keep moving forward and ensure that no Virginian is left behind because of inadequate education, lack of job opportunity, fear of crime, or loss of self-worth.

As your attorney general, I've kept my promises.

As governor, I will keep my promises.

These are my promises to the people of Virginia.

  • Quality education.

  • Lower taxes.

  • Economic growth.

  • Safe streets and schools.

  • A better future for our children.

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