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tv   Virginia Gov. Northam Delivers State of the Commonwealth Address  CSPAN  January 22, 2021 12:43am-1:46am EST

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>> and the u.s. a part of the state of the state address from richmond. >> the assembly will come to order. the governor of the commonwealth of virginia. [applause] will the joint assembly and guests, please be seated.
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it is my pleasure to present his excellency, the governor of thee commonwealth of virginia, the honorable ralph northam. [applause] >> good evening. madam speaker, madam president, lieutenant governor of fairfax. ladies and gentlemen thank you for inviting me to speak with you tonight. to my wife, to the attorney general, justices of the j supre court, members of the state corporation commission and my cabinet and staff, thank you for your service to this
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commonwealth. this speech is one of the rituals as virginians. when elected leaders come together from different branches of government, different political parties representing all of virginia and every person who calls the commonwealth home. it's who we are and what we do and it's important to maintain this tradition even in this most unusual year. many thingsen are different this year of course. normally more than 200 people are in this chamber but tonight, this chamber is practically empty. another thing that is different is a part of the ritual that i will miss. in a normal year when i say
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something that my friends like, they stand up and cheer and that is a nice feeling and at the same time the other side of the aisle they sit quietly but i know that you are secretly cheering in your hearts, so here is some good news. tonight, you don't have to be quiet. from home watching when i say something that you like, feel free to stand up and cheer me on. nobody has to know. [laughter] during these challenging times, kindness must prevail. so many things are different in all parts of our lives right now. the change is always on our minds and in our heart. we miss what was comfortable and
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we don't like uncertainty. we don't like being a part, and weon long for the day when we cn come together again. we are social people and we are meant to be together. the separation and the absence reminds us of what has been lost. it is a heavy burden to carry. more than 5,000 virginians have died from covid including our friend from russell county in southwest virginia. he was my friend, and i miss him. his presence always brightenedd my day. the stories around his initials,
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abc, are always entertaining. i hope fond memories will help his family through these difficult times. i ask you to join me in a moment of silence to honor everyone that has lost their lives to covid. thank you. we've all experienced loss this year and it has made us stop and ask ourselves basic questions. what's really important, what do i believe in and in my taking actions that reflect my values. these are some of the most fundamental questions of life. we need to ask these questions as a commonwealth, and that is
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what i want to talk to you about tonight. we need to talk about who we are as a state, what we believe in and the actions we are taking to live out our values. i want you to know that my heart is filled with optimism and hope when i think aboutut this becaue while we have, through a tough year that brought everyone pain and sacrifice, i have seen something remarkable. over and over again i have seen you taking care of one another. i've seen neighbors helping neighbors. he's been delivering packages for 16 years delivering more than 180 packages a day always withs a smile.
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patty lives on his route and organized her neighbors to thank him. one day as he drove down the street he saw the route lined with people to thank him with signs and cheering. she said it was to show gratitude and appreciation for simple acts of kindness on his part. when anthony saw the response, he got emotional. he said i was in shock. my heart was overjoyed regardless of what's going on, people still generally care or emily who is a nurse who lives in southwest virginia and spoke about caringiv for patients in their dying hours and how painful it is to care for them and how dangerous the virus is.u
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there are thousands more like her and our healthcare heroes across the commonwealth. or a school counselor in williamsburg who created a t-shirt that said virginia is for kindness. she did it to raise money for the local food bank. when people ask why she said we feel connected and i think we feel less afraid. or the national guard members that have their own jobs and lives but have spent months working to help protect others during this response. helping with testing and soon yes, vaccinations.
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but here is my favorite example. the virginia state troopers that protected the capital of the united states during the insurrection last week. when the mayor of washington and the leaders of congress said to me please send help, these men and women dropped everything and raced to defend our country's temples of democracy. our guard members went there, tomac. while others hesitated, virginians were first on the scene. it made me proud to see that line race across the 14th street bridge. senator tim kaine told me that when all 100 senators were evacuated during the insurrection, they saw tv footage of virginia troopers entering the capital and they cheered them on knowing help was on the way.
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but sadly, many were injured because of the attempt and lost their lives. they were officers in the united states capitol police. please join me in a moment of silence for officer brian and officer live in. >> thank you. the fact that our help was needed is terrible, i am proud we were able to help. there is nothing to celebrate about the fact that our nation needed help especially to defend the capital from fellow americans. but we can all be proud that virginia stepped up.
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that's what virginians do. that's what service means and this is what it means to live out our values. and that is how i know with all my heart and all of my soul we will get through this pandemic. it's because of the limitless ability to care for one another. we are one virginia. these stories inspire me and i want you to know that your government is following and taking action to help people. awe are going to move even fasr in this new year when we met a year ago before anyone had even heard of covid-19, we met in a spirit of celebration. we celebrated new leadership and the first women to lead the house of delegates and to the
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speaker and at the president pro tem. [applause] together we embarked on a past that is more progressive and forward-looking than ever before. we took these steps because the voters sent us here to take action, so we did. we passed landmark clean energy legislation and the common sense gun safety measures. we raised the minimum wage and advanced important criminal justice reform such as raising the felony larceny threshold and ending the practice of taking away someone's driver's license because they couldn't pay their court fees. we took important steps forward with dignity and respect
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becoming the first southern state to ban discrimination based on orientation and requiring schools to develop plans for transgender students. we repealed 100 instances virginia is a large diverse state that welcomes everyone and we took action to demonstrate that. we finished this when the pandemic hit and it seemed one minute we were living our lives and the next, those lives were literally turned upside down. over the months that followed,
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we all took a lot of hard action to protect ourselves, our families and each other. especially the nurses, the doctors. nothing about this has been easy. in the past ten months since then we've learned a lot about this virus. today we have more tools to fight and we now have the best tools, vaccines. i can tell you the effort it took to develop these vaccines. it shows us what we can do when people work together for the
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common good. it's our way out of this pandemic. the vaccines and continuing to follow the guidelines on masks, distancing and handwashing. so tonight, i urge you to get vaccinated when your turn comes. i will do it and so will my family. this is how we get back to a near normal. this is how we reopen our schools and rebuild our economy, through the vaccine. it's literally the light at the end of a dark tunnel and while it is a massive undertaking in your turn is coming up soon so here is where we are according to the cdc, only nine states have given more doses than
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virginia. and each of those states is larger. we are receiving shipments of about 110,000 vaccine doses each week for virginia and expect to be receiving more soon. i appreciate the hospitals, local health departments and everyone working to get a vaccine into the arms as quickly as possible. i have personally set a goal of ramping up to 25,000 vaccinations perio day as soon s possible. ..
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ounting on the people who work in our public health departments to push hard to get this done. and i will tell you, you are not alone, we are all with you. we have partners in hospitals, businesses, colleges and universities. everyone in virginia is ready and willing to help.
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getting everyone vaccinated is the largest deployment of volunteers that we have ever seen, and we need you to help. the virginia >> you have medical experience or you just want to help with the logistics, please reach out that was a message that we heard over and over again this pastt year and every part of our country. let's get moving people send a clear message throughout the year people knowingly longer willing to wait for change and expect their public officials to act. this year will continue taking actions to help people when our team and i wrote the
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budget to be focused on two things hoping virginians who are hurting because of the pandemic and laying the groundwork to help our economy rebound let's start with some good news. virginia is the only state in the nation where the people actuallynsurance drop from 20182019. and we are seeing and in the pfirst year after giving birth your people with medical this
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we could not have her seen the pandemic of course. but the pandemic has proven and just a few weeks ago we lost 500,000 virginians to thehe extension program that has happened million virginians and to come together in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation to get this done.
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and then to modernize the way we find public health in virginia. here is the issue but we allocate state money to cities and counties using the outdated formula. much more urban and suburban states that the funding plan has stayed the same in 2021, we are funding public health since 1980 that counties that thrive a generation ago are now hurting. they pay more for basic health
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ecservices for susan petersburg or even paid more as the tax base has changed. this has fundamentally inequitable and the wrong so they sure we are taking action. and to think the delegate for sponsoring legislation to address this we will make sure the localitiesin have now is the time to act. our budget is also includes services for pregnant women.
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does provide nonmedical support to pregnant women through the pregnancy and after they give birth the multiple study show they improve health outcomes for the mother and the baby. i am grateful to the delegates for their advocacy on this issue. it is a better outcome for mothers and babies and providing dollars for reversible contraceptives. these help women there is no excuse a group of legislators mostly who are been should be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies. i'mwo glad more and more women and i hope the number will
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only go up it is also time to help people take more action with the rent and mortgage relief program have put almost $54 million into helping people make their rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic. that program has helped nearly 17000 family so far. we have also worked in now you take action to do more severe produced 25 million more dollars new with the session.
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we need to take actions and through the pandemic the restaurant and small germs and bars and thousands of small businesses that are struggling to keep it is open and with a small businesses and nonprofits to help them get through this. two thirds of the grants for those that are minority and women and veteran owned world and $40 million and that is
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huge those need not be around forever now so these gaming machines are inconvenienced those in truck stops and restaurants across virginia. but and a lot of money upwards of $100 million in revenue from thesexe taxes. the last special session we did the right thing and earmarked this money for education in the event revenue sweptrm. well, they didn't slip and this money can once again be used for its original purpose, to help her small businesses.
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to rebuild virginia has helped nonprofits like the blue ridge discovery center in troutdale and restaurants in fredericksburge and a small businesses was a cut to perfection. it almost makes me feel like i need to go there. more businesses are in line for help so we need to take action now. we also need to take action on broadband it is as critical now as electricity was the last century. making sure more virginians can get access has been a officey since i tookirgi go the pandemic has highlighted how urgent this is for workers and businesses b and students were telehealth. the past ten months we have been fortunate to have a job that can be done from home and
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then to be done remotely when you live in the area where internet access is out of reach you have put on a mask and cross your fingers when you go to work you have driven your child to the public library parking lot to get an internet signal to do her schoolwork make no mistake. this that is a summary of cut the number by a 20 percent with projects to make it more than 130,000 homes and businessesho our budget provides
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$50 million each year to maintain our historic level. we need to get it done. we need to take action on education. everyone wants to get her schools open and students back and to do it safely so we are taking action where teachers and school staff were getting the covid vaccine vaccinating teachers is just one way working for the shared goal of reopening schools to make sure students are getting the support that they need. education is the best to me how to make the commonwealth a better and more acquittal place and when we do a right
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to give everyone access to opportunities to build a life that they want and it is especially important we continue to invest in education and one foundation built on sand to a $500 million and then the funding and drop seven moment this year. we propose more than $26 million to increase the number ofer school counselors
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and put additional dollars into providing more needed resources for english learning students the counselors now more than ever school staff and teachers have made great sacrifices this year and on behalf of virginia i thank you. i want to thank them as well they have been through a lot the past ten months they have made sacrifices to endure a lot of change and we are grateful. investing in education includes giving our teachers a pay raise we are all proud in 2018 to give them the largest single your pay raise in 15 years are sharp an additional 3 percent pay raise. that had to be cut from the budget when i first proposed
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from teachers a few weeks ago that if revenues improve this month we should convert that one-time bonus into a permanent raise. tonight come i have good news, revenues look good and we will have more money than we thought. we need to make this teacher bonus a raise and make it more than 2 percent. [applause]e] i look forward to working with you all to get that done. for children who have not yet entered kindergarten i am introducing a program for field access to early education of early childhood educators. we want every child who enters kindergarten ready to learn and to provide equal opportunities for the first
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lady in her work on childhood education. [applause] to help people get the skills training or the education they need particularly if they are out of work because of the pandemic get skills and get a job and get back to those throughun community colleges and the financial aid to help them do it we also allocated $30 million more for financially the public colleges and universities across the commonwealth and wend increase the tuition assistance grants for students or private institutionstu to
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$4000 and through marymount university designated as the first hispanic service institution in virginia. will also propose additional tuition assistance for our national guard members. the fact last week we were told how before we were for the work. he said that one thing we can do to help the guard members is to provide more access to an affordable education. 's current members to be a huge is support with the pandemic and now with the threats of violence in washington and i look forward to working with the general assembly to get it done. we have also proposed additional assistance for historically black colleges tid universities.
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that have long been underfunded. wall virginia is not immune to the economichehe impact we are better than many states those that borrow money to cover operating costs but here in virginia our finances are solid and we have kept the aaa bond rating secure and how other states are borrowing money and reading the retirement plans we are doing just the opposite. our budget proposes investing $100 million in our retirement plan for public school teachers the state00ur employee health insurance credit program and benefits for first responders through the line of duty act. this is sound fiscal policy meeting were security for our publics servants. we need to take action in the
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pandemic has reminded us from the coast and all that we have to offer that's where budget includes $5 million for more regional trails anyone who is one of the capital trail in or southwest virginia knows that they are a great asset to the community there are places to ride bicycles and attract visitors and
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dollars from all over. the pandemic you showed us how important it is to be able to get outside. more trails means more opportunities i want to thank the caucus for their work on their$1 outdoor activities also putting nearly $12 million into air quality and land conservation these are important investments to ensure we don't fall behind and to continue to protect our natural areas.
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and we are investing making it easier to move around the great commonwealth our budget ofil $50 million that only the amtrak service in virginia covers 100 percent of the operating cost through ticket sales and it is time that we dodo it. those are twoe words we don't hear much but humility means
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technology we may have done wrong ourselves sometimes. forgiveness is welcoming other people after they have done wrong. we have begun the journey and we must keep taking action. if you break the law in virginia, you will be, punishe. but right now part of the punishment follows you for the rest of your life, even after you paid your debt to society. you lose your civil rights like the right to vote and you don'tm get them back unless the government gives them back. so if you have a felony conviction c to restore your civil rights to vote and run for office. is not automatic but it should
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be a made it a priority to restore rights to more than 40000 people and i have parted more virginians than any governor in the commonwealth. and you should hav' to ask for your basic civil rights to be restored. and then to make the process automatic if we want people to return to their communities and to dissipate in society we need to welcome them back this is the right thing to do that in the general assembly now in the paper want to be in my position marijuana is a great
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example and people that use marijuana for three and half times more likely to be charged with a crime for it. and almost four times as likely to be convicted because that's how the system is set up generations ago and in fact one of the leaders of the dea was clear that marijuana laws should be read explicitly to target people of color. so they were and they have been targeting people forar years.
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it is time to join 16 other states to make marijuana legal and and the current system rooted and inequitiesem. we have done the research and we can do this the right way leading with social equity and public health and public safety. reforming marijuana laws is one way to ensure that virginia is a more just state and marijuana has become a cash crop that rivals tobacco right here in virginia. but as an illegal like so many for virginia by legalizing and taxing it we can use the revenue to those communities most is proportionally impacted by the inequities of our laws. for example, just half of the potential as revenue could pay for two years everyone in virginia is most vulnerable
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three and four -year-olds those that deserve the best part in life. working out inequities including expunging records of those who were convicted and other crimes in the past. it's time to act to have a robusto debate the process of expunging people's records. is a make a system or just and useful in these direction to make sure that criminal justice system operates fairly
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but if you commit the most heinous crimes you should ayspend your days in prison but here are the facts. virginia is executed more people than any other state, more than 1300 people. here is another truth. the person is more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death when the victim is right there when the victim is black. and then to allow executions to resume in the 1970s after a long moratorium.
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and those that have turned away from capital punishment so what parts of the world continue china? iran? saudi arabia? iraq quick egypt in the united states but 22 states have said no longer will the state take a life even as someone who is killed another. and then the pharmaceutical companies refused to supply those chemicals there is another important reason what is the system is wrong.
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and that happens here in virginia remember the case in 1984 to be convicted of capital murder he spent 18 years in prison in virginia including nine and a a half on death row. but he didn't do it by the early 2000's the technology showed he was innocent this innocent man came within nine days of being executed. if ten days had passed we would ask yourselves how did virginia execute and innocent man and for all of these
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reasons it is much less common in virginia than before but today only two people are on death row. and because we believe it matters in policy but no accounting will be complete with how we are moving away from our past. virginians history is deeply complicated and progress does not come without struggle it has had a long reach and 150
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years the confederate insurrection across the united states has been celebrated here in virginia. and in those holidays that celebrate those cities and counties the way that it represents itself in the united states capital and then we heard the call and the people said it is past time to come down we saw that most clearly in virginia's largest monument to the confederate interaction will soon come down.
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but now it's time to engage so i have proposed a plan to vote the capital city reimagine what it should look like is virginia science a confederate cause on history and the virginia museum of fine arts is one of the world's leading to show uswh who we are this is another part of our capital city just outside the members of this room just a few blocks from where i'mck standing , virginians operated one of the largest slave trading markets in the early days of this country. in time you will become one of the biggest, second only to new orleans. it is a place where virginians
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would sell men and women and childrenen for profits. that is not pretty but it is part of who we are right now there are just a few small around the area so that is not enough. so we were president of the site known as the devils half-acre so this turns into a sacreded ground and the people who experienced it. i want to thank for her advocacy those that were taken
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from the cemetery in the district of columbia. people buried there included me veterans the part of mary todd lincoln two sons of abolitionist frederick douglass f and philip read help to create and for commercial development but that was part of the goal and to be used as
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riffraff for on the potomac river. and thank you for your leadership on this issue and in our nations capital we have removed the confederate statute represented virginia who fought to right the wrongs of racism thanks in large part in the senators thank you so much for your leadership. they told me this is one of the most important experiences and thank you to the
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congressman and congresswoman. let's get that done this year for wiccans in virginia and they also continue to work against integration. and then with the architect of massive resistancess one week from now we will inaugurate joe biden and one week ago from ou' nations capital they
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were done by conspiracy theories from the president who could not accept their goal of a legal and a fair election. but none of that just happens and that was an accident and nothing aboutta it was spontaneous. those who want to government that serves only themselves, they don't care about democracy and they will always come with violence to try to end it. so tonight i say to everyone elected official in virginia who can be to use the falsehoods b and have ama
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consequence and the inflammatory rhetoric is dangerous. this is not a game when elected leaders purposely areject to fan the flames the conspiracy all in the pursuit of power they are taking dangerous steps we have now seen were those can lead we have a duty to tell the truth. voters deserve the truth even when it's hard to hear. not the lies that will comfort them because as we saw last week lies do not quell outrage they encourage and that
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creates real damage. people are hurting the senate leader to do a job they are counting on us. we can do a great deal of good the session. i'm excited to get to work so we can keep making progress in and for this commonwealth. and the adversity of the past ten months has revealed a strong and resilient virginia. they have lost a great deal.
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jobs, livelihoods and loved ones. but we're still here we are poised and ready to rebound we have laid a strong foundation for ourselves to sustain that you can rely on using federal pandemic funds to help our neighbors get through this to make targeted investments in the long-term success. we are moving past the burden of our history taking action to reflect who we are we step into this new year with a lot of hope that the vaccines will end this pandemic and we can get back to normal life and we can return to a time when this
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is over and to see a new understanding of what is important like sending children off to school every day concerts and all of the experiences that we miss. we need to remember that wee care about eachth other we have learned a lot in the past you believe are all connected what i do affects you and what you do affects me we are one virginia and we need to keep taking care of each other. i am so proud of the state of our commonwealth in the foundation we about to get to the pandemic to recover in a way that is equitable and i am proud of you virginia, you
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made this the greatest state and the greatest nation in the world. and once again to lead the nation so now, let's get to work thank you all may god bless our country and the commonwealth of virginia. good evening and thankea you. [applause] [applause]
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