McAuliffe adresses state legislature
Focuses goals for next term on education, economy, bipartisan cooperation
Following his inauguration last Saturday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe addressed the Virginia state legislature for the first time Monday evening, emphasizing the importance of education, transportation and the economy.
“In order to meet [economic] challenges, we must grow and diversify our economy so our future is driven by Virginia entrepreneurs, not by damaging defense cuts and Washington gridlock,” McAuliffe said.
Politics Prof. Larry Sabato said although McAuliffe was optimistic in the speech, he may face problems with the commonwealth’s Republican-controlled General Assembly and split Senate.
“McAuliffe did the same things new governors always do — let the legislators know their priorities and ask for cooperation while there is a bit of a honeymoon after the inauguration,” Sabato said in an email. “New governors are always optimistic.”
McAuliffe’s optimism registered with University Democrats.
“It’s definitely more optimistic than you would imagine given all the divisiveness, but I think it is actually warranted because the governor has said a lot about bipartisanship,” said Katherine Bailey, a third-year College student and president of the University Democrats. “He used the phrase ‘common ground’ several times in the speech, and I think that is going to be a common theme for his term.”
College Republicans Chair Elizabeth Minneman, a third-year College student, also reacted to McAuliffe’s expressed desire for compromise, though she expressed a degree of skepticism.
“[McAuliffe] is trying to appeal more to the center,” Minneman, said. “But when you listen to what he is proposing, he made a lot of promises about increasing spending and Medicaid expansion. But [he] hasn’t made any suggestions … for where that money is coming from.”
Many of McAuliffe’s stated goals for education focused on standardized testing reform.
“Let us resolve tonight to come together around thoughtful, meaningful and effective reforms to the Standards of Learning tests,” he said. “We should stop over-testing our students. We should examine essay testing and other ways to measure knowledge and cognitive reasoning.”