Following recent news of record-high agriculture exports; Virginia's unemployment rate falling to 5.6 percent, the lowest rate in over three years; and the passage of a balanced budget that directs historic new resources to higher education, puts significant new funding into K-12 education and dramatically improves the solvency of Virginia's Retirement System, with no tax increases; and continuing his administration's focus on job creation and economic development, Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that he is embarking on a "Virginia: Growing Strong" statewide tour over the next week. The statewide tour is aimed at highlighting private-sector growth around the Commonwealth and celebrating bipartisan successes from the recent General Assembly session. The tour will take the Governor all across the Commonwealth from Jonesville in far Southwest Virginia to Winchester in the northern Valley; Danville in southern Virginia to the deck of a Navy cruiser anchored in Norfolk. A full tour schedule is available below.
"Virginia is growing strong again. While difficult economic times are not completely behind us, and Virginia will continue to face challenges on the road to recovery, the Commonwealth is showing significant signs that it is growing strong again. Our 5.6 percent unemployment rate is the lowest in over three years, the lowest in the southeast, and it has fallen by 23 percent since we took office. Our new biennial budget puts historic new resources into higher education, over half a billion in new funding into our K-12 system, and stabilizes our retirement system for the years ahead. And we did this without raising taxes. We are making government live within its means, and be more efficient and effective. Agricultural exports are setting records, buoyed by breakthroughs like direct cattle shipments to Canada and soybean exports to China. Businesses continue to choose Virginia as the best place to grow and expand, while Pollina and CNBC recognize Virginia as the best place in the country in which to do business. These are Virginia successes. They are the result of Virginians coming together across party and regional lines to get things done and get results. We are celebrating that. My cabinet and I will be crisscrossing the state to thank Virginians for their great work through tough times, and to hear directly from them what we can do in Richmond to keep Virginia growing strong in the years ahead."