My 2021 State of the Commonwealth address is starting—watch live:…
During these challenging times, kindness, and calmness must prevail. So many things are different, in all parts of our lives right now.

We are social people, and we are meant to be together. The separation and the absence remind us of what has been lost. #VASOTC
More than 5,000 Virginians have died from #COVID19, including Senator Ben Chafin, from Russell County in Southwest Virginia. He was my friend, and I miss him.

I ask you to join me in a moment of silence to honor Ben, and everyone who has lost their lives to #COVID19. #VASOTC
I want you to know that my heart is filled with optimism and hope. Because while we have just come through a tough year that brought everyone pain and sacrifice, I have seen something remarkable.

Over and over again, I have seen Virginians taking care of one another. #VASOTC
Here’s my favorite example: @VSPPIO and @VaNationalGuard members who protected the U.S. Capitol last week.

@timkaine told me that when all 100 senators were evacuated to a secure location, they saw TV footage of our troopers heading to the Capitol—and they cheered. #VASOTC
Many were injured because of the coup attempt, and two Virginians died. They were United States Capitol Police officers.

Please join me in a moment of silence for Officer Brian Sicknick and Officer Howard Liebengood. #VASOTC
When we met a year ago, before anyone had even heard of #COVID19, we met in a spirit of celebration. Together, we embarked on a path that was more progressive and forward looking than ever before. #VASOTC
We took these steps because voters sent us here to take action.

So we did.

We passed landmark clean energy legislation.
We passed common-sense gun safety measures.
We raised the minimum wage.
We advanced important criminal justice reforms.

We became the first Southern state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, and requiring schools to develop plans for transgender students.

We repealed nearly 100 instances of racist and discriminatory language from our law books.

We were just finishing this historic session when the #COVID19 pandemic hit us.

Over the months that followed, we all took a lot of hard actions, to protect ourselves, our families, and each other. Nothing about this has been easy. #VASOTC
The vaccines are our way out of this pandemic. I appreciate the hospitals, the local health departments, and everyone working to get vaccines into arms as quickly as possible.

I have set a goal of getting to 25,000 vaccinations per day, as soon as supply allows. #VASOTC
This is how we reopen our schools and rebuild our economy. It is the light at the end of a long and dark tunnel.

And while it is a massive undertaking, and it will take some months to get to everyone, I promise: your turn is coming, and soon. #VASOTC
When we expanded Medicaid three years ago, we could not have foreseen the pandemic. But I am so grateful that when that crisis came, this safety net was in place.

Just a few weeks ago, we marked 500,000 Virginians who are covered through the expansion program. #VASOTC
We have made record investments in affordable housing, and our Rent and Mortgage Relief Program has put almost $54 million into helping Virginians keep a roof over their heads—I am proposing another $25 million to do even more. #VASOTC
We all know our small businesses need a lot of help to make it through the pandemic.

So, I am proposing to use revenue from the so-called “gray machines,” which could double the number of small businesses who get help through #RebuildVA. #VASOTC
Broadband is as critical now as electricity was in the last century. Making sure more Virginians can get access to it has been a priority since I took office. And the pandemic has highlighted how urgent this is—for workers, for businesses, for students, for telehealth. #VASOTC
My budget provides $50 million in each year to maintain our historic level of funding for broadband. We need to get it done. #VASOTC
Investing in education includes investing in our teachers.

And tonight I have good news: because of improved revenues, I want to make my proposed teacher bonus a permanent raise—and let's make it more than two percent. #VASOTC
Every child deserves to enter kindergarten ready to learn. That's why I am proposing a pilot program to provide three-year-olds access to early childhood education programs, and grants to address pay equity for early childhood educators. #VASOTC
To help Virginians get the training or education they need, particularly those who are out of work because of the pandemic, my budget invests in the G3 program—Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back. #VASOTC
We have also proposed additional assistance for our public historically black colleges and universities, @VSU_1882 and @Norfolkstate, which have long been underfunded. #VASOTC
Virginia is one of just a few states where if you have a felony conviction, someone has to act to restore your right to vote or run for office.

It’s not automatic, but it should be. #VASOTC
I have made it a priority, restoring civil rights for more than 40,000 people, and I have pardoned more Virginians than any governor in our Commonwealth’s history.

But that shouldn’t be up to one person, and you shouldn’t have to ask for your civil rights to be restored. #VASOTC
I am proposing to change Virginia’s constitution to make that process automatic.

If we want people to return to their communities and participate in society, we need to welcome them back fully.

This is the right thing to do. #VASOTC
We know that while White people and Black people use marijuana at similar rates, Black people are more than three times more likely to be charged with a crime for it.

That happens because that’s how the system was set up generations ago. Now, we can change it. #VASOTC
It’s time to join 16 other states and make marijuana legal, and end the current system rooted in inequity.

By legalizing and taxing it, we can use the revenue to help communities most disproportionately impacted by the inequities in our laws. #VASOTC
When we all agree that a crime deserves the strongest punishment we can give, it’ s still vital to make sure our system operates fairly and punishes people equitably. We know the death penalty does not do that.

It’s time to end the death penalty in Virginia. #VASOTC
No accounting of the state of our Commonwealth in 2021 would be complete without examining how we are moving away from the burden of our past.

Virginia’s history is deeply complicated, and progress has not come without struggle. #VASOTC
For 150 years, the Confederate insurrection against the United States has been celebrated in Virginia.

But we started changing that last year. #VASOTC
We ended holidays that celebrate Confederate leaders, gave cities and counties the right to remove monuments, and changed the way that Virginia represents itself in the halls of the U.S. Capitol. #VASOTC
It was important progress, and throughout the year, we heard the call to move faster.

We saw that most clearly in our capital city, and Virginia’s largest monument to the Confederate insurrection will soon come down. But that was just a first step. #VASOTC
I have proposed a plan to help our capital city reimagine what the famous Monument Avenue should look like, as Virginia consigns the Confederate cause to the dustbin of history. @vmfa is one of the world’s leading museums, and is an ideal partner in this work. #VASOTC
Just one week ago, a mob of domestic terrorists stormed our nation’s capital. They were egged on by conspiracy theories and lies from a president who could not accept losing.

Their goal was simple: overturn a legal and fair election. #VASOTC
We never expected to see scenes like that in our lifetimes. But none of it was an accident, and none of it was spontaneous.

Those who want a government that serves only themselves do not care about democracy. And they will always come with violence to try to end it. #VASOTC
I say to every elected official in Virginia, you can be part of our democratic institutions, or you can use falsehoods to destroy them, but you can’t do both.

We have a duty to tell the truth, even when it’s hard to hear. Lies do not quell outrage—they encourage it. #VASOTC
People are hurting, and they sent us here to help them.

We can do a great deal of good this session—and I am excited to continue our work so we can keep making progress in, and for, this Commonwealth. #VASOTC
We are poised and ready to rebound.

We are moving past the burden of our history, taking action to shape a Virginia that reflects who we are and what we value. #VASOTC
We step into this new year with a lot of hope—that the vaccines will end this pandemic, that we can get back to normal life, and that we can return to a time when government was just part of the background noise of daily life, not the top headlines. #VASOTC
But I hope we don’t just move back to those times when this crisis is over. I hope we move forward with a new understanding of what’s important.

We are one Virginia, and we need to keep taking care of each other. #VASOTC
I am proud of the state of our Commonwealth, and the foundation we have built to get through this pandemic and recover in a way that is equitable and fair.

Together, we are shaping a Virginia that once again leads the nation—let’s get to work! #VASOTC

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More from @GovernorVA

14 Aug 20
Today I'm highlighting several of my priorities for the upcoming special session of the General Assembly, which is set to begin next Tuesday, August 18th.

Virginians are hurting right now—and the Commonwealth is stepping up.
First, we must do everything possible to keep Virginians in their homes.

That's why I'm proposing $88 million in state funding to increase affordable housing and combat evictions, on top of the $55+ million we're spending in rent and mortgage assistance through CARES Act money.
I'm also proposing a pause on evictions until at least April 30, 2021, tied to the requirement that landlords and tenants work together on a payment plan and seek out financial assistance, including through @VADHCD's statewide Rent and Mortgage Relief Program.
Read 8 tweets
5 Aug 20
We're launching COVIDWISE, a new exposure notification app to help contain #COVID19 and keep Virginians safe.

Virginia is the first state to use technology developed by @Apple and @Google to create a tool like this.

You can download the free app at Image
COVIDWISE uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology to determine if you’ve been in close contact with someone who tests positive for #COVID19, and sends you an alert.

Knowing your exposure history means you can get tested and self-isolate—before you start to experience symptoms.
This app protects your privacy—it doesn’t rely on location data or GPS tracking, and it doesn't collect, store, or share your personal information.

And if you test positive with #COVID19, you have the option of whether or not to anonymously share your result through the app. Image
Read 4 tweets
4 Jun 20
Today, we’re here to be honest about our past and talk about our future.

I strongly believe that we have to confront where we’ve been in order to shape where we’re going.
In Virginia, for more than 400 years, we have set high ideals about freedom and equality—but we have fallen short of them.
Some of America’s most hopeful and forward-looking moments happened in this Commonwealth and in this capital city.

When Americans first dreamed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—they dreamed it here in this Commonwealth.
Read 18 tweets
24 Apr 20
Our #ForwardVirginia blueprint will help guide the Commonwealth on when and how to begin easing public health restrictions safely.
Virginia has taken aggressive action to flatten the #COVID19 curve—and it’s working. 

But our daily case numbers are still rising, as you can see from the blue line on this chart.
We all are bearing a lot, and it is making a real difference.

While cases initially doubled every 3 days, it is now taking about 9 days––3 times longer––for confirmed cases to double in Virginia. That means our growth rate has slowed and the curve is flattening.
Read 11 tweets
21 Apr 20
Just a few weeks ago, we passed one of the most forward-looking budgets in Virginia's history that included new investments in important priorities like our environment, early childhood education, and free community college for Virginians pursuing careers in high-demand fields.
But the #COVID19 pandemic has brought once-in-a-generation challenges to our health, our economy, and our livelihoods—and we know the state budget cannot move forward as written.
Together with General Assembly leaders, we came up with a bipartisan plan for a budgetary timeout.

It works like this: pause all new spending—but leave it in place and set it aside—then update the budget once the financial picture is clearer and our economy is moving again.
Read 4 tweets
11 Mar 20
In Virginia, we've taken steps to prepare for and protect Virginians from #COVID19—and we will continue to execute our plans across all levels of government.

Here's what we are doing:
✅ We’ve expanded our criteria for diagnostic testing to ensure that anyone who has symptoms and is in a nursing home is a top priority.

✅ We’ve also provided guidance to nursing homes and senior care facilities on additional visitor screening.
We've directed all school districts to update their pandemic plans in consultation with their local health departments.

And we will continue working in close coordination with college and university presidents to provide guidance and address their individual situations.
Read 10 tweets

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