Gov. McAuliffe gives final State of the Commonwealth address

13News Now Audrey Esther has the story

RICHMOND and NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Governor Terry McAuliffe's final State of the Commonwealth Address focused heavily on economic growth and development.

McAuliffe says after federal budget cuts from 2011 through 2013 cost Virginia $9.8 billion dollars and 154,000 jobs, his economic initiatives worth $14 billion dollars helped save the state.

"That is nearly $5 billion more than any administration in the history of the commonwealth of Virginia," he says. 

McAulliffe also mentioned the state's current 4.2%  unemployment rate and addition of 167,000 jobs during the last three years.

"These are important indicators that our efforts are working and that our trajectory is indisputably upward," he says.

Economic development and job growth have been McAuliffe's signature issues says ODU political science professor, Jesse Richman.

"We see him really pushing that issue especially the first half of the speech was almost all economic development," Richman says.

McAullife says he's protected Hampton Roads from sea-level rise by winning a $120,000,000 resiliency grant.

"That is the largest grant given to any state in the United States of America," he says. 

"This was a speech that was very much about touting the governors hard work for the state," Richman says. 

Richman says McAulliffe will have a difficult time getting support on controversial issues such as calling for universal background checks on firearm sales

"This one is very much a partisan issue," he says.

McAuliffe also vowed to veto any legislation that discriminates against LGBT residents and voiced his support to expand Medicaid

"Virginians elected us to solve problems. 400,000 people living without health care is a problem," he says.

McAullife's final address, Richman says, could also be the first draft of a possible 2020 presidential campaign speech

"Who's going to be the democratic nominee? Who knows but a former democratic governor from a swing state that's not the worst foundation," Richman says. 

McAuliffe's State of the Commonwealth Address kicks off the 2017 legislative session, which lasts for 46 days. 

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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