Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin is hopeful that he can convince Democrats in the Senate to agree with him on some of his agenda items as he looks to govern with a split government when he assumes power in January.
The Democrats have a slim 21-19 majority in the state Senate as their only defense against a large promise made by Virginia Republicans during this election cycle that helped them take back the House and win all three statewide races. But regardless of those gains, now they will have to compromise with at least a few of the Democrats in the Senate chamber to fulfill most of their promises.
Youngkin said that he immediately began calling around introducing himself as a way to break the ice after he won the gubernatorial election. “Relationships matter and the basic framework of low taxes, great schools, safe communities, and a growing job market with a thriving economy — these aren’t Republican issues, these are universal Virginia issues,” Youngkin said Monday night.
Education was a prominent topic of Youngkin’s campaign and he has a bit more leeway in making the changes that he promised by selecting new leadership at the Department of Education.
On the campaign trail, he vowed to announce who his education leaders would be by the start of December. But on Monday, he acknowledged that while he still hopes to announce in early December, positions within his administration have received a large amount of interest from qualified individuals which requires more time for everyone to be reviewed. “We have been really pleasantly surprised by the caliber and quality of people who have put their hand up and said that they want to be a part of our administration.” His transition team recently launched an application portal for interested parties to apply for political-appointed positions within the new administration. “We are interviewing a bunch of people, had meetings this week, so we are still marching forward. We are going to do a good job picking the right person, but we are still focused on early December,” Youngkin said Monday night. .
While continuing to host ‘Thank You’ rallies across the commonwealth, Youngkin has also attended finance meetings with members of the General Assembly, a national conference with Republican Governors, and a roundtable with local law enforcement.
On Monday, he spent nearly an hour with kids at a basketball clinic in Chesterfield hosted by former NBA player, Pastor Calvin Duncan. Youngkin was greeted by cheers and talked to the players about basketball’s impact on his life and what he believes the players should prioritize: working hard, surrounding themselves with good people, and succeeding in school.
Youngkin at six foot, seven inches in height played four years of college basketball on a scholarship with Rice University. He eventually became the CEO of a global investment firm before being elected governor of Virginia earlier this month.
The players did drills with the gov.-elect as he walked around the gym like an assistant coach helping the kids with their form, largely ignoring the parents who surrounded the court with their phones out recording.
The parents cheered for Youngkin as he exited the gym, with one woman shouting “make a difference.”
“I shook his hand,” a man said to his wife, as he arrived late and walked into Youngkin as he was leaving the gym.
“I had the best time,” Youngkin said afterward. “There is candidly nothing more fun than working with kids and playing basketball.”
He was quick to refocus on his agenda in an interview with Virginia Scope, however. The gov-elect remains committed to his promise to eliminate the grocery tax and bring down the tax burden with refunds, increasing standards within schools, and signing a “record” budget for schools that he says would include raises for teachers and more special education funding. Youngkin also said that “there is just a huge amount of momentum,” to establish a charter school system and provide a choice to parents for their children.
Additionally, as he often said on the campaign trail, Youngkin wants to ensure that Virginia will fully fund public safety departments, protect qualified immunity, and he vowed once again to fire and replace the members of the parole board.
“We have got a big agenda,” the gov.-elect said Monday night. “So we have got to get ready.”
His inauguration date is Jan. 15.
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