McAuliffe Talks Job Growth, Economy At Longwood

Published 2:02 pm Monday, June 29, 2015

FARMVILLE — The excitement was contagious, from the State Police helicopter landing all the way to his final words of advice to the young women sitting in Jarman Hall.

As he talked about job creation, economic growth and diversifying Virginia’s economy, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe drew rounds of applause from the Virginia Girls State participants at Longwood University on Thursday morning.

A majority of his just-under-40-minute speech focused heavily on the economy and jobs. He discussed how his administration had grown the workforce in an unprecedented way since he took office about 17 months ago.

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An annual event held at Longwood, Virginia Girls State is organized by the American Legion Auxiliary and is designed to teach young women responsible citizenship and love of God and country.

McAuliffe, an early Hillary Clinton ally, also discussed the loss of federal government defense money in relation to his building a new Virginia economy, noting Virginia’s tremendous success.

A thunderous applause erupted when he discussed the need to reduce the number of Standards of Learning tests that Virginia students must take.

“That is not how you build a new economy,” he said of teachers teaching to the SOL tests and students taking too much time memorizing and preparing for the tests.

The governor said that he wants the state to be open and welcome to everyone, no matter their differences. “You cannot build an economy if there’s any discrimination going on,” he said.

He told the large crowd, donning Girls State lanyards and T-shirts, that women need to be an integral part of the governing process.

The most important thing they can do, he said, is to vote.

“That is not democracy,” he said, citing the vast number of voters who did not participate in a recent election.

He told the young women to think big, and to take chances. “Please don’t ever be afraid to fail. And, I think that stops so many people,” said McAuliffe.

After describing the number of women in his cabinet, he told the young audience to shoot for the stars every day.

“I love life,” he said, smiling, before talking about the power of being positive and having hope.

“You folks being here today gives me hope as your governor that our future is going to be very bright,” he said.

He called the teenagers the future, and urged them to stay engaged in the civic process.

McAuliffe took five questions from the young women regarding economic growth, SOL reform, public speaking and rising college costs.

“This is a huge issue…” he said of paying for college. “The debt that our students have when they get out of college is astronomical.”

The governor said it bothers him that so many college graduates leave with debt, taking the first job offered to them, which blocks them from pursuing their passions.

“Go do what you want to do with your life,” he advised. “Don’t let anyone tell you you have to do this, this or this.”