RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Mr. Speaker, Lt. Governor Northam, Attorney General Herring, Members of the General Assembly, Justices of the Supreme Court, guests from across our Commonwealth and nation, my fellow Virginians: It is humbling, and the highest honor of my life, to stand before you today.
It is humbling because of the responsibility that you have given me, and because of the history and tradition of where we stand.
While makeshift, the Virginia State Capitol first came to Richmond in 1780 at the urging of Thomas Jefferson - during the height of the American Revolution.
Through the courage and sacrifice of so many who came before us, our Commonwealth survived the Revolution. Freedom was born. Tyranny was defeated. And a permanent Capitol was constructed here in Richmond.
This Capitol, where I stand today, reminds us not only of the durability of Virginia, but of what Virginia overcame.
While often too slowly - together we overcame the evils of slavery, Civil War, and segregation.
Now, more than 200 years later, Virginia has grown stronger than ever.
Relative to the nation, we've emerged from the Great Recession with an economy more resilient than many of our sister states.
We are a stronger Commonwealth because our leaders have wisely invested in superior public schools for our children.
We are one of the best states to do business because we have worked together to minimize regulations and keep taxes low.
Our colleges and universities are models for the nation because there is bipartisan consensus in Richmond that higher education drives long-term, innovative growth.
And Virginia is the national model for fiscal discipline because our leaders- leaders like Governor Doug Wilder, decided long ago to put the common good ahead of short-term politics.
That's the Virginia way - it's a tradition that we should be proud of.
But it is also a tradition that must be sustained through constant work by leaders who choose progress over ideology.
Common ground doesn't move towards us, we move towards it.
On behalf of all Virginians, I want to thank Governor Bob McDonnell for his leadership during the last four years.
Governor McDonnell has provided for the smoothest transition imaginable, and I am grateful to him for that.
He and Lieutenant Governor Bolling will long be remembered for their leadership on transportation - not just for the policy accomplishment, but for the manner in which it was achieved.
It was an approach that built consensus worthy of the Virginia way.
It's the same approach taken by Governor Warner to save our triple A bond rating while investing in education, and by Governor Kaine who prudently guided our Commonwealth through the great recession.
But as we celebrate our past, the truth is that we still face serious economic headwinds over the course of the next four years.
And, like four years ago, the skeptics are predicting divided government driven to gridlock by partisanship.
Virginia, together, we will prove them wrong again.
As Virginians, the spirit of service is built into the fabric of our communities.
We were home to so many of the founders who sacrificed their lives to build a nation based on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And now today, Virginia is home to so many who serve to protect those everlasting rights. Join me in recognizing them and their families.
I remember growing up, hearing stories of sacrifice from my father who served in World War II.
These are the same stories that Virginians hear every night from parents and grandparents -
and from brothers and sisters returning home now.
We will honor their sacrifice by ensuring that they have access to the education, health care, and career opportunities they deserve.
Our servicemen and women have the technical training our innovative industries demand, and they embody that strong sense of teamwork, leadership, and drive that make them valuable assets to our workforce. That is why we need to make it easier for them to get good jobs when they come back home.
Our 23 community colleges have and will continue to play a major part in this effort. They are our workforce development engines, and over the past year, I visited each and every one of them across the state.
They are preparing our students for the jobs available today and equipping them with the knowledge and skills for the emerging industries of tomorrow.
With a community college within 30 miles of every single Virginian, they are the key to attracting and keeping the industries of the future across the Commonwealth- from Arlington to Abingdon; Luray to Lunenburg.