- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the state has added more than 88,000 jobs and housed more than 1,500 homeless veterans in the two years since he took office, and he vowed to boost exports further in his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday.

The Democratic governor, addressing the General Assembly in Richmond, said he has traveled to Cuba to take advantage of warming relations, has lifted bans on poultry exports to Oman and Kuwait, and has sent Virginia-grown apples to India as he seeks to turn the state into an international trade powerhouse.

“Our successes in global trade are at the center of the important work that we are doing to build a new Virginia economy — and they are a clear example of the benefits of working together to get things done,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

At home, the governor called for using technology to evaluate students rather than the long and rigorous series of tests that have angered parents and teachers alike. He said the amount of time spent taking tests could be cut through the use of “computer adaptive testing,” though he did not provide details.

He also said public schools should push students to get out of the classroom and into internships or taking college courses early.

He praised a school opening in Richmond next year where students earn both a high school and community college diploma while working computer science jobs.

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Mr. McAuliffe hoped to gain reinforcements in the assembly in November’s elections, but Republicans held both the House and Senate, leaving the governor with little hope of advancing his own agenda.

But he also said he would play defense against some of the bills he expects Republicans to push, including expanding gun rights, restricting abortions or trying to limit same-sex marriage, which was made a national right by a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year.

“I will not hesitate to veto legislation that I believe harms those important goals,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

“Specifically, I am prepared to veto bills that roll back the progress that we have made on marriage equality and women’s access to health care. I will also reject proposals that limit this commonwealth’s ability to keep Virginians safe from gun violence or to react to the very clear and present danger of climate change and sea level rise,” he warned.

Republicans in December fought the appointment of Judge Jane Marum Roush to the Virginia Supreme Court and have tried to remove her from her post.

Mr. McAuliffe said that playing politics with “this qualified and distinguished jurist” serving a 12-year term “would send a dangerous message about this commonwealth’s respect for the independence of the judicial branch.”

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