Governor Northam urges cooperation, action, progress in State of the Commonwealth Address
Invoking the “Virginia Way” of political compromise, Northam catalogued the accomplishments of his first year in office — including expanding Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of low-income Virginians, raising the larceny threshold and securing funding for Metro — and he urged both parties to cooperate.
“The successes in this past year have come about not because I, or you legislators, did something individually — but because we worked together,” he said. “When we work together and help provide a strong foundation for Virginians, our families and businesses thrive.”
In his first official State of the Commonwealth address, Northam urged the legislature to “offer a different path forward” in a national political climate dominated by partisan fights and gridlock.
Pointing to the partial federal government shutdown that has affected thousands of Virginia workers, Northam said that in Washington “some politicians have a way of making even the simplest things look difficult.”
“I believe that most of the time, people find what they’re looking for. If they’re looking for division, they’ll find it,” Northam said. “But if they — if we — look for areas where we can agree, we’ll find them.”
Still, Northam repeatedly called on lawmakers of both parties to work together, a word he repeated throughout his speech.
“It can be tempting to retreat to our corners and shout at each other. But I believe we all have that internal moral compass, the one that guides us toward the right thing to do. I hope we all follow it this session,” Northam said.
“In Virginia, we can work together to restore balance and fairness on the state level,” Northam said.
Northam also used his speech to take a victory lap as he completes his first year in office. The governor has scored two legacy-making wins in his first year: expanding Medicaid and landing a new Amazon headquarters with 25,000 new jobs.
"Putting politics aside for the good of the people shouldn't be hard, but as we are seeing up the road in Washington, some politicians have a way of making even the simplest things look difficult," Northam said. "Virginia can offer a different path forward."
Northam celebrated several achievements by his administration and state lawmakers over the course of his first year in office, touting legislative compromises in 2018 that expanded Medicaid in Virginia and decreased the grand larceny threshold.
The Governor also took aim at several pieces of legislation he plans to back in 2019. They include decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, an "extreme risk law" to allow police and courts to take a person's firearm if they pose a danger to themselves or others, and codifying a woman's "fundamental right to make her own health care decisions."
Northam reassured Virginia that things are looking up: Virginia's economy is growing with the lowest unemployment rate in seventeen years and more jobs are coming with Amazon coming to Northern Virginia and Microsoft expanding in Mecklenburg County.
"We can say with certainty, that the state of our beloved commonwealth is as strong as ever," said Northam.
One of Northam's biggest successes in 2018 was expanding Medicaid.
"No longer will these Virginians have to worry about whether they can afford to see a doctor," said Northam, referring to the over 200,000 adults now enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program.