RICHMOND, VA, 9 January 2019 – Delegate Robert M. “Bob” Thomas, Jr. (R-Stafford) and Senate President Pro Tempore Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford) tonight delivered the Republican perspective on the State of Commonwealth. The text of their remarks, which were broadcast following Governor Northam’s, are as follows:
“Good evening and thank you for joining us following the annual State of the Commonwealth Address. I’m Delegate Bob Thomas from Stafford County.”
“And I’m Senator Steve Newman from Bedford County.
“Tonight, Governor Northam detailed his policies and spending initiatives for the General Assembly session. The Governor is a good man I have known for many years. Over the next seven weeks, Republican legislators will be giving his proposals a full and fair hearing.
“Republican lawmakers, and our Democrat colleagues, will consider over 2,000 bills and resolutions between now and our scheduled adjournment on February the 23rd. Some measures, like our plans to provide state tax relief for Virginians, are important to ensuring our commonwealth fully participates in the robust national economic recovery.
“Other measures Republicans will be advancing have a far simpler goal: we plan to reduce the cost of healthcare for Virginia families struggling to afford the higher insurance premiums. Virginians have endured skyrocketing out-of-pocket expenses that have accompanied the Affordable Care Act passed during the Obama Administration. Too many Virginians find they simply can’t afford their premiums today.
“Although the federal law placed many restrictions on health insurance plans, states are allowed leeway in the policies. Disappointingly, Virginia has failed to take full advantage of many of the options and choices the federal government permits under current law.
“This failure has resulted in many middle-class Virginians not being able to use their coverage when they need it because of high deductibles. Some have been forced to forego insurance coverage entirely because of high premiums. This is simply unacceptable.
“This year, we are advancing a package of healthcare proposals that will come from the private sector, not from government. The package of bills includes legislation to expand the availability of affordable group insurance plans, allow more of our citizens the option of low-cost catastrophic insurance, and increase the duration of less expensive ‘short-term’ plans. Our healthcare initiatives will increase choices and lower the costs of available policies. We plan to provide more Virginians with insurance coverage their families can actually afford.
“We will also be advancing initiatives strengthening school safety and quality education, creating jobs, ensuring fiscal responsibility, and lowering your taxes. Now, Delegate Thomas has more details on some of these initiatives.”
“As a parent with eight kids in our public schools, I know Virginia’s families entrust our public schools with those most precious to them: our children. We owe it to every Virginia family to ensure our schools are safe and secure places to learn.
“Although we’ve taken steps in recent years to bolster school safety, the House established a Select Committee on School Safety to ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect our students.
“A few weeks ago, the Select Committee presented a comprehensive set of recommendations to make our students and schools safer through threat prevention, improved mental health services, and increased training for school personnel and school security.
“Among the recommendations are proposals that would utilize the latest technology in school security and infrastructure equipment. Our goal is to employ every means available to keep dangerous individuals out of our schools.
“These recommendations are the result of bipartisan collaboration to address school safety issues that are important to students and teachers. Equally important, our initiative will give parents and families greater peace of mind when their children are attending Virginia’s public schools.
“Virginia families must also concern themselves with making ends meet. That’s why Republican lawmakers continue to focus on keeping taxes low to ensure hardworking Virginians are keeping more of their money in their pockets.
“Republicans are committed to stopping Governor Northam’s tax hike on the middle class. Our tax reform plan will return the tax windfall resulting from the federal tax cuts along to taxpayers, while providing targeted tax relief to middle- and low-income Virginians and protecting our coveted AAA bond rating. We will insist that state government balance its books without taking more of your family’s earnings.
“Senator Newman and I thank you for watching tonight. We wish you and your family a happy and prosperous new year.”
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Delegate Robert H. “Bob” Thomas represents the 28thDistrict in the House of Delegates. The 28thHouse District is comprised of portions of the City of Fredericksburg and Stafford County.
Senator Stephen D. Newman, Senate President Pro Tempore, represents the 23rdDistrict in the Senate of Virginia. The 23rdSenatorial District is comprised of Botetourt and Craig Counties, as well as portions of the City of Lynchburg and Bedford, Campbell, and Roanoke Counties.