Northam gives first address as Governor to Joint Assembly

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RICHMOND – From his inaugural address on Saturday to his first time standing in front of the Joint Assembly Monday, Governor Ralph Northam relayed the policies and plans that his administration will have over the next four years.

Northam started his speech from the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond by thanking those that helped him get to the position of Governor. He did admit that standing in-front of the Joint Assembly was a little different, but not his first.

“When I last stood in this spot, it was to announce my candidacy for the important position of Attorney General of the 1976 Model General Assembly. And I am proud to say that I won! And, by the way, that I was unopposed,” said Northam jokingly.

Northam spoke about a variety of issues facing Virginia, this included healthcare, diversity, employment, education, gun violence and environmental issues.

Here are some key points that he spoke about on a variety of issues:

Healthcare

The former neurologist spoke about the expansion of Medicade in Virginia, something that his predecessor Terry McAuliffe was not able to do in his last few years in office.

Northam harped on how the expansion of Medicade in the state would bring tax dollars back home to Virginia and transform the lives of 400,000 people who lack coverage in the state.

“The proposal currently before us will create tens of thousands of new jobs, save the Commonwealth more than $400 million over the biennium, reduce the strain on rural hospitals, and help combat our mental health and addiction crises.As a physician, I believe that expanding Medicaid is a matter of basic economic justice,” said Northam. “Expanding Medicaid is the best way for us to make life better for Virginians and truly open a new era of policy making in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Northam also talked about women’s health care and the choices they should have when it comes to treatment and reproductive health.

“As we work to expand health coverage, we should also make it easier for Virginia women to access reproductive health care, and oppose any effort to make it harder. Quality and affordable women’s health care is a constitutional right and an economic imperative – it is also a personal decision.”

Diversity

Northam spoke about the diversity of his administration. His staff includes multiple women.

“This cabinet is led by women. And like this new General Assembly, it is also one of the most diverse in our history. This management team can be an example to our friends in the corporate world. When people say, “we can’t find enough women, or enough diverse candidates for leadership roles,” I say—you’re not looking hard enough,” said Northam.

Northam also spoke about how Virginia is a place for all.

“This Commonwealth is home to people from every corner of the globe, every faith tradition, every political perspective and every income level,” said Northam. “We are also home to people who too often face discrimination or unnecessary obstacles to equality. As we begin our work, let’s ensure that all Virginians can realize their potential, no matter who they are, where they live, or whom they love.”

Education

“The introduced budget includes more than $500 million in new funding for school divisions across the Commonwealth. The budget before us also wisely includes additional resources for school divisions in high-poverty communities where students too often fall behind. This funding will help these schools empower at-risk students to keep pace with their peers across the Commonwealth, so that every child can enter the workforce ready to succeed on day one.”

Employment

“During my campaign for Governor, I made connecting Virginians with the skills they need to succeed in a new economy the centerpiece of my agenda. That’s why I have appointed Megan Healy as Virginia’s first Cabinet-level Chief Workforce Advisor, to focus our attention on these issues at the highest level, every day. We are also beginning the work to implement a proposal I made during the campaign called G3, which is short for Get Skilled, Get a Job, and Give Back.The centerpiece of that agenda is a plan to pay tuition and fees for any Virginian who pursues a credential in a high-demand field, if they commit to at least one year of public service.This innovative program, which we will pursue over the course of my term, will be a big boost to the great work that is already taking place to build the workforce of the 21st Century.”

Gun violence

“Let’s start by keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them by passing universal background checks.The Senate Courts of Justice committee rejected this legislation this morning on partisan lines, along with several other bills aimed at preventing gun crimes. That is disappointing – but this issue is not going away. As long as Virginians’ lives are at risk because there are too many guns in the hands of people who would use them to harm others, we will fight on this ground. As long as schools, churches, offices and concert venues are exposed to horrific, preventable violence, we will fight on this ground. As long as the people who sent us all here continue to cry out for solutions to the epidemic of gun violence, we will fight on this ground.No partisan allegiance or special interest influence is more valuable than the life of the next Virginian we will lose to gun violence. Or the one after that. We must act together this year to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.”