Excerpts of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s inaugural address
Today we gather, not as individuals, nor as Republicans or Democrats but as Virginians.
And for the 73rd time in the history of Virginia, the home of American democracy, we’re participating in the peaceful and orderly transfer of leadership.
The will of the people grants a license to serve. A temporary license extended with trust, with faith, and with expectations to deliver on promises made.
And therefore, as I reflect on my Virginia home and my love for this great nation and its founding principles, I’m so very humbled to be sworn in as the 74th governor of the commonwealth of Virginia.
In this last election, we heard from more voters than ever before (in a Virginia election for governor), 25% more, nearly 3.3 million Virginians who sent us here on a mission to restore trust in government, and to restore power to the people.
We stand here today as the messengers of that movement. Entrusted to protect liberty, create opportunity and build unity for the hard work ahead.
This celebration is about that movement and not the candidates or elected officeholders. It’s not about me, but rather about us.
Together we’ll renew the promise of Virginia, so it will be the best place to live, work and raise a family.
No matter who you voted for, I pledge to be your advocate, your voice, your governor.
Not a single one of us has escaped the tragic consequences of COVID-19.
Today, we lift up our prayers for the more than 15,000 Virginians whose lives have been lost. We pray for the families. And we pray for those who have survived but who have lost jobs, lost an income or a business, or even lost hope.
We know the impact borne by children, who fell behind because their classrooms were locked down too long.
And the strain placed on parents. Especially Virginia moms who had to juggle with their homes becoming job sites and virtual classrooms overnight.
This moment of hardship has been compounded by economic factors. Inflation and supply chain failures. Rising grocery, gas and utility bills. As well as higher taxes and stagnant growth.
Our politics have become too toxic. Sound bites have replaced solutions — taking precedence over good faith problem-solving.
Yet, as we gather here today, I join you with an unbridled sense of optimism, because I know and trust Virginians.
Despite the continuing challenges posed by COVID-19, I see a path forward. Not to some pessimistic new normal, but to a new and better day.
Our common path forward is with the miracle of modern medicine that’s given us vaccines, new therapeutics and medical treatments.
Our common path forward is with our deep and abiding respect for individual freedom.
And our common path forward protects both lives and livelihoods.
And to be clear this spirit of Virginia is not about government deciding for us what is best for us.
But rather reflecting the will of the people. Defending and protecting the rights guaranteed by our constitution. And a government and elected leaders going to work for “We the People.”
We are Virginians whose leaders gave birth to the most exceptional nation the world has ever known.
Yes, a country with chapters of great injustice.
But also a country birthed on the fundamental notion of freedom. That we’re all endowed by our “Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
A nation whose ideas and ideals have been replicated and memorialized around the globe for nearly 250 years.
And Virginians have led boldly from our founding — Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and our very first governor, Patrick Henry, who insisted on adding the Bill of Rights to the Constitution to protect our individual liberties.
This is our lineage. And following generations carried that mantle, leading and serving as Virginians are called to do.
Barrier-breakers like Maggie Walker and Gov. Doug Wilder (who is here today) — leading the way for the historic inauguration today of our new Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and our new Attorney General Jason Miyares.
The people of Virginia just elected the most diverse leadership in commonwealth history, sending a message that Virginia is big enough for the hopes and dreams of a diverse people.
I come to this office, ready to lead and serve on Day One.
We’ll start where the future is determined, in the classroom, preparing Virginia’s children to be career- or college-ready.
Starting today, we will raise standards, raise teacher pay, invest in facilities and children with disabilities.
We will create innovation lab and charter schools of achievement — within the public school system.
We will remove politics from the classroom and refocus on essential math, science and reading. And we will teach all of our history the good and the bad.
And we know that when our children don’t go to school, it harms their learning and development. So let me be clear we must keep our children in school five days a week.
Starting today, we will tackle the high cost of living. We will suspend for a year the recent tax increase on gasoline, and eliminate the grocery tax altogether.
In addition, we will double the standard deduction on income taxes, rein in skyrocketing property taxes, provide the largest tax rebate in Virginia’s history, and cut taxes on our military veterans’ retirement benefits.
Starting today, we will be crystal clear — Virginia is open for business.
We’re going to re-energize the engine of the economy by reducing regulations, investing in job training, making it easier for business to access capital, and get all Virginians back to work
Our goal is to create 400,000 jobs and 10,000 new startups over the next four years.
The most basic compact government must make with every citizen is to preserve public safety. My pledge is that we will restore safety by fully funding law enforcement.
Starting today, we will comprehensively fund higher salaries, better training, investments in equipment. And we will protect qualified immunity for law enforcement. …
As governor, we will return respect to the men and women who wear the uniform, all law enforcement officers, corrections officers and first responders who take an oath to keep us all safe.
Somewhere along the way we’ve lost the ability to show respect to one another. To disagree without being disagreeable.
And we’ve tried to silence the people most responsible for the lives of young children — their parents.
Parents should have a say in what is taught in school, because in Virginia, parents have a fundamental right to make decisions with regards to their child’s upbringing, education and care.
To parents I say we respect you. And we will empower you in the education of your children.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrate today and whose great life we celebrate Monday with a national holiday, once said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
For us, that boat is named Virginia, and today we set sail to a new and better day.
Since the founding of Jamestown a little more than 400 years ago, we’ve been an imperfect people on the course to a more perfect union.
At times, we’ve failed to live up to our ideals. But we all want to do what is right and what is morally just even if we fall short.
What is seared in our heart by a loving Almighty Creator is not a desire for power or conquest, not a love of self, or personal advancement.
We must set our eyes on the common values and common future that unites us. To work every day to strengthen the spirit of Virginia, and redeem the promise of our people.
It’s Day One. Let’s get to work.