The following are excerpts of remarks made by Governor Timothy M. Kaine from his State of the Commonwealth Address to the Joint Assembly in Richmond last Wednesday.
Jeffersons Vision in Jeffersons Capitol
These halls have witnessed Virginians of every city and county, men and women, people of all races, from all walks of life, rise to the challenge of self-government.
As we see other nations in turmoil, suffering violence over claims of leadership and authority, we are reminded what a privilege it is to hold an election, pass power from one president to another, one governor to another, one legislator to anotherpeacefully, and with the conviction that whatever party or region our leadership hails from, they serve us all.
This accomplishment cannot be taken for granted. It has been paid for in blood, and even today, Virginians serve in places of great danger, helping to preserve the civil society we enjoy and advance freedom in other lands.
Here at home, our society is not held together by force, or by fear, but by the continued consent of our citizens to engage in this common effort.
We are sent here to serve. And our service will not be measured by how it affects the few hundred people on Capitol Square. It will be measured by how it affects the 7.5 million Virginians outside Capitol Square.
We should not ignore our political parties, our regional interests, or our personal concerns. When our differences of opinion arise from a commitment to ideals, rather than a desire to win a political battle, they lead to our best solutions. I believe strongly in my vision of how our government should serve.
But I pledge to you that I will hear your beliefs and those of our constituents and work with you to find solutions to these challenges that are better than those you or I could design alone.
To expand and improve outpatient services, we must increase funding for additional clinicians and case managers. We must increase support for emergency services. We also need to do a better job of keeping people with mental illness from entering the criminal justice system and to provide better treatment to individuals when they are in jail.
We must not only correct the historic under-funding of community mental health, but also demand greater accountability in the provision of care.
Better outcomes for our mentally ill citizens demand a more uniform system of emergency response times, admission criteria, and staff requirements.
We can help provide people with the treatment they need by adjusting commitment standards, ensuring that emergency orders are long enough to allow expert examinations, and clarifying the responsibilities of all parties in diagnosis, treatment, and follow up.
If we identify people with mental illnesses and provide them with proper treatment and support, we serve them and our communities better.
My proposal increases state support for cities and counties offering pre-k programs, makes more at-risk students eligible and utilizes high-quality private providers so that more money can be spent on education, instead of bricks and mortar.
In addition to expanding access to preschool, we will enhance quality and accountability, build collaboration among public, private and Head Start programs, and strengthen the early childhood workforce.
This is an investment in our Commonwealths future. We must make it now so that our children can become the firefighters, police officers, teachers, delegates, senators, and governors who serve the next generation of Virginians.
Higher Education Bond
Making significant new investments in higher education will also help create high-tech jobs through research and innovation. This is particularly important at a time when job growth is slowing.
Thats why I have proposed a $1.6 billion bond package to continue the acceleration of our top notch higher education system. This investment, to be phased in over the next 5 to 7 years, will provide facilities across the Commonwealth for researchers to develop new, cutting-edge technologies and turn them into commercial assets.
The bond package centers largely on engineering, science, business, and health professions. It will support our higher education systems continuing efforts to build a more talented workforce that is fully prepared to compete in a global economy. Beginning these needed projects now will be less costly than in future years, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. And the bond package fits well within our conservative debt service guidelines.
I know you will suggest ways to improve on the proposals I have put before you today. I look forward to a civil exchange of ideas, always keeping the needs of our citizens foremost in our minds. As Jefferson wrote to John Adams, “Truth between candid minds can never do harm.”
You will also offer many proposals of your own, and I pledge to engage with you in good faith about your visions for Virginias future.
We have much to look forward to this year. There is no greater honor than for each of us to play our part in continuing and improving the legacy of enlightened self-government that has enlivened this Capitol for 220 years. Virginians have sent us here with high expectations. If we work together, we will not disappoint them.